I have never had a guest blogger before, so I thought I would start with a good one!
For those of you who have not yet discovered her, Sally Laughlin is from the USA. Her last book Fly Toward Death is a fact-based novel about the female fighter pilots who fought for the USSR against the Nazis. Brilliant stuff!
The Beginning of a Being a Writer
Sally Ann Laughlin
What makes a person want to write, to tell a story, whether it be fact or fiction? For every writer there is a different reason why they write, but we all have one thing in common we are storytellers.
My journey into writing was a very difficult one. Let me take you back to my early-childhood memories. I loved reading and would walk a mile to the public library, in all kinds of weather, to take out books. Worlds of adventure and awe awaited every page I turned. Filling my world with books made life a lot easier for me.
I was the middle child, two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. The two older sisters didn’t want me tagging along and the same with the two younger siblings. So, basically, I was a loner.
Back in the 1950’s we lived in a Catholic, all-white neighborhood. So here I am, a Protestant, skinny, big-eyed girl in a predominately Catholic neighborhood. The Catholic children were told not to play with me. It baffled me, because I didn’t care what religion someone was – it was my first experience into the sad world of the prejudice. Hmm, anyway, I’m still a loner.
Okay, back to my elementary years. This was my second experience into the awful world of prejudice. I was ostracized by my classmates when a young, black girl, Shirley, came into our school. I befriended her, and immediately I was an outcast. She left after a short time, but I was never accepted by my classmates again. During those lonely years, I befriend the different, the troubled (had no idea at that age just how troubled some of them really were), but mostly I was alone.
Across the street from our house, in the inner city of Cleveland, was a small, wooded area down a little hill. At the bottom of the hill was a polluted pond nestled in against the over grown weeds, bushes, and trees. It was my haven, my retreat from the world above. It was a world where I had true friends, imaginary as they were, they were mine.
A large, square, rusted bucket sat on the edge of the pond. I found a large stick and used it to push my “ship” across the oil slicked water. It is there where I felt the most alive as I pushed my ship through the dank waters. It became my world where no one could change or alter it – except me. It is there where I envisioned elves, pirates, Robin Hood and all kinds of wonderful adventures.
We moved when I was sixteen from that house, and my forest. I was thrust into a school with kids who wanted nothing to do with a newcomer. Again, a loner – nothing new – but I had no oasis to escape from it this time. A few months later, I skipped school and took a bus back to the old neighborhood to walk through my forest again. My heart was racing, because now I knew how to get back to my pond, and I could come back anytime I wanted.
I hurried down the hill. Strange, I thought. I don’t remember this path having all of these briars poking and pulling at my coat. I finally reached my beloved pond. I saw the old rusty bucket and raced toward it. Now I can glide across my “lake” once again. Did my friends the Elves, pirates and Robin Hood miss me? I sorely missed them.
The bucket was pulled from the water and sitting on the shore. When I looked inside I was startled, someone poked a large hole in the bottom of the bucket. I looked at the colorful oil slick that covered the polluted pond and the rusty bucket as if seeing it for the first time. I sat on the shore, at the edge of the water, and cried. I never went back again.
The Cleveland public schools were not the best education a child could get. A couple of teachers stumbled into the classroom intoxicated, others just didn’t seem to care to teach. There may have been some great teachers, but I was one of the unfortunate children who never had a good teacher.
When we moved to the suburbs of Cleveland, my luck didn’t change. Teachers would use my writing papers as an example of what not to do. One particular teacher would read my paper out loud and then tear it verbally to shreds. However, after class a couple of kids would tell me they loved my story – because it wasn’t boring like the rest.
It wasn’t until years and years later that the stories in my head were almost screaming at me to get out and be heard.
So, in my later years I began writing. My first four books were fantasy books – yep – my elves and pirates finally were freed. And, being the true friends who they are – they forgave me for not telling their stories sooner.