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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Playing Tag - Writer Style

I’ve been tagged by Patti, western writer over at with the challenge to write about what I was up to 10, 20, and 30 years ago. Considering my memory isn’t that great, it’s more of a challenge then Patti anticipated!

So to respond to the challenge and because my family is arriving for a visit starting tomorrow, I will get back to the series of posts on the western genre starting November 1st.

30 Years Ago:
1977. I was 11 years old, dreaming and scheming on the eastern shore of Maryland. Always making up stories. Always dreaming about moving west to the mountains, starting my horse ranch and writing books. And I was in the midst of my Starsky & Hutch craze. A definite transitional phase for me. Gunsmoke was the last of the great TV westerns and it had gone off the air two years before – so my western mania was being starved to death. I had no choice but to make up western stories in my head! And 1977 also held my greatest trauma to that date – my beloved Bob Barker died. No, no – not the Price is Right game show host that I had a crush on. However it was my great privilege to name my beautiful collie/shepherd mix dog Bob Barker in honor of the game show host who always put in a plug for the good welfare of animals. I don’t remember what disease claimed the life of my Bob Barker, but I can vividly recall, to this day, how devastated I was as I wept over his body in our detached garage. So devastated by the loss in fact, I didn’t get another dog of my own until 18 years later when “Cody” Starsky Jackson entered my life. But I always had my dreams of horses and the west.

20 Years Ago:
1987. In truth, I recall this time as the “boring adult phase of life”. Right up till my last days in high school, I lived in a dream world. Felt all you had to do to have your own horse ranch was move west, stake a claim on some land and build it up. Guess I really had read too many westerns for my own good! But in 1987, three years out of high school, I had most definitely learned the reality was a lot more unkind then my dreaming and scheming led me to believe. Not only were my dreams of ranch ownership pretty much squashed, my writing got squashed too. I had quickly become enmeshed in the 9-5 grind and writing fell by the wayside. And I learned the painful, hard way that the greater your absence from writing, the harder to get back into it. Because, just as our life becomes painful and difficult when we separate ourselves from a close walk with God, so does fear and self-doubt creep up and attack us when we don’t write. That’s when that little voice inside you – the one you used to be able to subdue with much more ease – stands on your shoulder shouting “It’s just as well you gave up on your writing dreams. You’d be lousy at it and nobody would want to read your drivel anyhow.” But my life was about to change for the better – in another year I’d finally get to live in the mountains, although it wouldn’t be the mountains of my beloved west. At least not yet.

10 Years Ago:
1997. A pivotal year for me. The start of the rest of my life. After 12 long tedious years, I finally graduated that May with my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Mars Hill College in Western North Carolina. I’d visited Arizona in 1990 on vacation and had immediately fallen in love with it. So, right after my graduation party, I packed my possessions in my little Honda Civic and me and my black lab Cody set off for Arizona. I had no job lined up. No place to live. But that dream inside me of moving west, while it sputtered for a while, had never truly died and by this time in my life it was roaring back in full blaze. This year was so crucial in so many ways. Finally getting to live in a place all my own. My beloved west. Hiking. Growing and maturing along with my black lab. And most importantly, being in Arizona, the land that so inspired me, the foundation for my writing was firmly set. It was here that I got serious about my writing even though it took a few more years to get underway.

I can’t type The End. Just like at the end of the Star Trek movies, I have to instead type –

The Adventure Continues. . .


Patricia said...

Hi Brenda,
Enjoyed reading your life to date and loved your 'ending' : )
Keep writing

Patti Shene said...

Thanks for playing, Brenda! Loved hearing about your love of the west. Your pull to Arizona parallels mine to Colorado. Keep writing those westerns!