Who Am I?

Well, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? So many of us have asked that at some point or another. Not everyone knows the answer to that. Some figure it out over time. Some never find who they are. Some figure it out very early on. Some find it, and then forget who they are. Some people change who they are over time.
When I was a kid, the adults (and a couple kids) I knew compared me with 2 different fictional girls. I heard it over and over.
Anne of Green Gables and Jo from Little Women.
I did have a lot in common with those two girls. I loved to read. I had a crazy imagination. And I loved to write.
When I was 9, I started writing my first book. It was called “The Adventures of Mary Meerkat.” Meerkats were my favorite animal (thank you, Lion King…) and I always loved stories of young people going and having grand adventures, so that’s what I wrote about. A young meerkat who’s family gets kidnapped and she goes to rescue them with her best friend, a bald eagle named Eray.
I never wrote more than a couple chapters, and the story had several different incarnations (one took place in outer space), but Mary and Eray followed me around for a long time. I always had imaginary friends, and I knew they were imaginary. I used to pretend that Mary and Eray would sit on my desk at school and give me the answers to my school work. Sadly, they were no better at math than I was.
I went through a Star Wars phase, which spurred me to start writing a sci-fi story called “Alexa.” A young alien girl with special powers and her best friend, a feline looking guy named Cheetor (invented by a friend of mine), who defended the universe from a six-headed hydra named Venom Fang. Never got far in that one either, but I wrote rough plotlines for several books with Alexa and Cheetor. I wish I knew where that scrap of paper went, because I’m pretty sure I’ve got some great ideas in there that I’ve forgotten about.
I still read voraciously. I took a brief sashay through various horse books (Black Stallion mostly), Babysitter’s Club, Anne of Green Gables, Animorphs, and a few others. Actually, in those days, my method of finding books to read was simple. Wander up and down the aisles of the library and pick up the thickest fiction books I could find. “Little” books like Babysitter’s Club and Animorphs I could read in an hour or so. I liked books that would last longer. I still remember picking up Harriet the Spy and rejoicing because it had 500 pages.
This method led me to discover the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, which became my obsession. My writing all became fan-fiction for Redwall, and I poured my time into a online club a friend and I created. Hours upon countless hours were spent on message boards, role-playing as characters I created for this world.
By 15-years-old, I had decided where I would be in the next 10 to 15 years. I’d live alone in a cabin in the mountains (with internet access). I would raise parakeets and write books.
Time marched on. I was immersed into Christ. I got a job. I graduated from high school. I spent 6 months in Africa, teaching kids to speak English. I came back and started teaching in my old school. I got married.
My reading and writing kind of fell by the wayside. I dabbled in it a little bit. I wrote most of the first draft of my first novel in Africa, but it took me 2 ½ years to finish it. My eyesight improved for a time because I wasn’t spending so much time reading. Actually, there was a better part of a year where I doubt I read more than 5 books. Too busy.
I started working on a sequel to my first novel after I got married, and hit a bad case of writers block. I think that story sat, untouched, for at least a year. My dreams of being an author had kind of wilted. I’d hit a few roadblocks and lost myself.
In 2007, I started the 3rd book in the series as a part of NaNoWriMo. The second still sat unfinished. I never thought I’d be able to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It had taken 2 ½ years to write a 90,000 word book the first time. But I gave it a try.
And I did it!
I got the whole story written in less than 30 days. I had a few days where I couldn’t write, because I developed some sort of carpal tunnel problem in my left wrist from writing so much. In the end, I did it and that old dream of mine got rekindled. I had rediscovered something I’d almost lost. Shortly after NaNo ended, I sat down and finished the 2nd book.
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since then. I’ve won ever year. I’ve considered opting out a couple of times because I thought real life would be too much in the way. But the siren call of creative endeavors kept pulling me back. There’s a rush I feel when I write that I honestly don’t get any other way.
When I was 9, I decided to be a writer. Over the years, I’ve been a ballet dancer, a flute player, a student, a basketball player, a web master, a volleyball captain, a cashier, an inventory control person, a missionary, a teacher, and a bookstore employee.
That lonely cabin in the woods and the raising of parakeets never happened. I got married to a man who used books to get us together. I have three beautiful little girls, and my oldest is starting to remind me Anne and Jo.
I’m still a writer, though.
That is who I am.

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