That I am a slow learner is one of several themes throughout Glass Houses, my as yet unpublished memoir. Besides adding an element of humor to the story, it also happens to be true. Where self-awareness is concerned, I’m especially obtuse.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. Out-of-town friends and relatives still talk about the long, chatty letters I wrote them dating back to the 60s. The journal I’ve kept since 1982 now includes nearly twenty volumes. All that and the professional articles, consumer fact sheets, news articles, and blog posts I’ve written over the years would fill a trunk or two.
But more than enjoyment, I am compelled to write. Something drives me to take pen in hand and fill page after page with my thoughts. Allowing words to flow from my brain to my hand and through the pen to the page is intensely satisfying.
I used to think that the physical act of writing was the source of my bliss. Getting started was sometimes difficult, but once I got going the words effortlessly appeared on the page. The act of writing longhand was so much a part of the experience that it took a while to become as comfortable writing on the computer. For several years, I routinely wrote my first drafts longhand then typed them up.
As recently as two years ago, the idea of writing a book seemed beyond my ability. In June of last year, thanks largely to encouragement from readers of The Crotchety Old Man, I decided to give it a try. Six months later, I’d finished the first draft of Glass Houses. Now I’m wrapping up Addicted, my first work of fiction.
Most of my non-work-related writing has been deeply personal. Given this writing history, it makes sense that Glass Houses would be a memoir. Addicted, my second book, started out as a work of fiction loosely based on a part of my life that I left out of the memoir. However, the more I got into the story, the farther it veered from anything even vaguely resembling my experience.
The most amazing thing about writing fiction is the way the story comes out of nowhere. The characters in Addicted have taken on a life of their own. They talk to me as I’m writing about them. They let me know what they would say and/or do in particular situations. More recently, they’ve revealed to me connections and histories with other characters in the story that I never envisioned.
I know it sounds strange that my characters talk to me. You may not even believe me, but it’s true. Many well-established writers say the same thing.
Writing completes me. Having other people read what I’ve written is one of the most richly satisfying experiences of my life. Without willing readers, I have no reason to keep writing.
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to everyone who read Glass Houses. Reading the less-than-perfect manuscript required a considerable investment of their time. I continue to be touched by readers who let me know how they could identify with my story or how they reacted to it.
I’m especially grateful to Terri, Pamela, Susan, and Patricia who have patiently read numerous versions of an ever-changing draft of Addicted. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Adrienne, Amy, Stephen, Kaitlin and Ed in my writer’s group for all the thoughtful feedback about how to improve the manuscript. Without their ongoing support and encouragement, I don’t know what I’d be doing here in…
My Glass House