Saturday, October 17, 2009


Me, Junior High Grad. age 14

It occured to me tonight as I was making my way over to the East side to take photos for a story I want to write for the Vancouver Guide, that there are some parallels to my life at this time as there were when I was a kid in Junior High, dreaming of being a writer. Back then, and all through high school, I was more interested in writing my stories than anything else. I didn't usually date boys and all during my high school years spent hours alone in my room typing on the old Underwood typewriter I treasured so much. (It was like the one Ernest Hemingway used and he was my writer hero).

I was on my way to the Latin Quarter tonight, alone. I haven't been there for weeks (either broke or busy) but the last times I was there I felt isolated, and solitary. That's often the way I felt when I was a teen-ager. I didn't have boyfriends like some of my school mates. I was a dreamer who was always thinking in another space, my mind drifting to other worlds. I was always romanticizing, living in my fantasy world. All I really ever wanted to be was a writer. And I had wanted that since I was a small child.

Me, High School Grad. age 17

I spent my last year of high school writing my first Alexander themed novel. I was captivated by Alexander the Great from the instant I heard about him (briefly) in a history class. I had been writing historical novels since I was twelve, starting with Pioneer stories written in pencil in lined scribblers, to novella sized manuscripts with Biblical settings. I wrote a few plays too, and sometimes they were perfomed for friends at home or church.

My teachers scolded me because my grades were not what they should have been. I dropped science and math after grade 10 because I simply didn't get it and couldn't care less. It was words that meant something to me. Words, and historical facts, and the lives of people who lived in other times.

I lucked out with my first job after I graduated, and went to work as a copy runner at the Vancouver Sun newspaper. I wanted to be a crime reporter; ended up a news librarian. But the writing bug had really bitten me and I was determined.

Then the usual distractions diverted me. Marriage, children, and being removed from the artsy atmosphere of the city that I loved, to another part of the country where I didn't have the same kind of inspiration or encouragement to write. So I quit for awhile and took up dabbling with paints instead. (That made my husband happy as I didn't stay up all night bashing away at the typewriter keys).

Then a few years later, moving back to the Coast and finding myself a single parent, I decided to take a creative writing class at night school. That set my creativity on fire again. I repeated the class for a couple of seasons, long enough to get me writing seriously again.Then, through the writing classes I met other writers and began to get involved in the writing community.

All this time I was working as a daycare supervisor and writing in my spare time. Then I started traveling and found that my journalism skills could be used to write travel articles. I sold the very first one I sent out and that marked the beginning of my writing 'career'. Since that first article in 1982, I have sold many others and ten years later started to teach travel writing for the School Board continuing Ed.

I had started a novel, (My Celtic novel) before I took up travel journalism as a means of getting publishing experience. Then I went to live in Greece and did more writing. And my interest in Alexander was renewed. I shelved the Celtic novel when it was half-way through in order to write a juvenile historical about Alexander's little-known son. But that turned into a major work which is now almost complete. In the meantime, I've had a play produced that I first wrote in 1953 when I was 18 (rewritten in 2000); published lots more travel stories; started my own travel 'ezine ; I write for the web (The Vancouver Guide at And I'm instructing lots of different writing classes as well as editing and critiquing manuscripts. I 'retired' from thirty three years of daycare work a couple of years ago. I am now a full time writer!

I thought all about this tonight as I set off for the evening after a day of editing, attended a life-writing workshop, and headed off to do photos of an event I want to write about for the Vancouver Guide. Then I ended up (solo, of course) at the Latin Quarter. Just like when I was a teen, any 'romance' I have is all in my head. As I sat there sipping my crantini I felt strangley out of place. Guess I've been spending too many hours at my computer, isolated and living in my writer's world. But it's a world I like to be in.

Yes. I am now a full time writer! I am living my dream. My next big achievement will be to get the novel published. And that will be another dream come true.

The thing is, you have to hold on to your dreams and don't give up. Because eventually, they will come true. It takes hard work, patience, and perseverence though. And a whole lot of dedication! And sometimes it means spending a lot of solitary time in that other world you are busy creating.

Me, toasting my contribution to

the Downtown Memory Project at S.F.U. downtown campus

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Adrian Swift said...


thank you for the very inspiring posting! I am glad that you have kept at it. Historical fiction is a hot genre right now, so the chances are good of seeing your novel in print. I've enjoyed the excerpts you share through your blog. It's a fascinating story and you have learned quite a lot about it. And how interesting that it's also a story that attracted you early on, when you first knew you wanted to be a writer!

I can sure relate to the idea of spending time alone in order to create and write. That's how it is, to be sure. A solitary profession, unless one teams up with another writer. But there are others who spend many hours alone in their jobs, huddled over a computer screen in an office cubicle, or locked away in a tiny inside room without windows. We aren't the only ones who work in a solitary fashion.

Beautiful photos!

Congratulations on living your dream!

And best wishes for continued progress on your novel!


Marie said...

I can relate. I was also a dreamer at school, living in my fantasy world. Though I had some friends, they weren't very close friends. I was just too different. Like you, I have a passion for history, and I did back then. But none of my friends did, so I kept it to myself. I love to escape into an imaginary world where I can invent my own characters.

I enjoyed reading this post and found it very inspiring. You are right. We must never give up on our dreams.

Good luck with the novel.