A few years ago I participated in a jewelry exchange. As the rarely-worn but lovely pieces were handed around a circle of women, I was particularly taken with one that no one else seemed to want. A single golden feather protruded from a large round, faceted crystal with a small gold top. It was, I realized, an inkwell—an old fashioned inkwell and quill pen.
I loved it instantly and chose it as my gift in the exchange. And then I took it home and never wore it. For I told myself that this quill-and-inkwell (made of that crystal that no one can pronounce) was meant for a writer. And I, despite my best of intentions, was not.
Oh, I’d tried to write—or rather, to become a published writer—a number of times. Six of my poems had been published (genuinely published—none of that, “Poetry Contest!” nonsense, where everyone submitting an entry “wins”, and then pays the publisher for the privilege of buying the overpriced compilation in which the poem appears). No, I had received payment for the six poems printed by Unity’s publishing house in their monthly magazine, and even seen one of my works later reprinted, with permission, in a hardback compilation titled, Truth the Poet Sings.
But none of my other writing projects succeeded. I tried my hand at writing a romance novel, completing several chapters…but since I didn’t actually enjoy reading them myself, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the book. I wrote a book of letters to my daughter, recording the wonder of her first year of life. Melon Patch Letters was read and enjoyed by several women, many of them strangers to me, but despite the approbation I received from my Beta Readers, no publisher was interested in the work.
I even compiled a full manuscript of poetry: poems that traced my healing from depression through spiritual growth. I still believe The Shuttle In My Hands to be excellent, but, then, of course, I would. Again, no publishing house found it worthwhile.
Life itself intervened in my aspirations, and I wrote very little until, years later, I completed my intensely personal manuscript, A Diary of My Divorce. I never submitted it for publication, although, looking through it again after 19 years, I wonder if I should not have done that very thing.
Enter the world of blogging and e-publishing. As these venues initiated and expanded, I considered them…but life itself has a way of interfering in the actual business of really living. As much as I wanted to write, as a single mother, working hard to support the two of us and putting my daughter through college, it seemed that the only writing I found time for was helping my offspring and her friends research and edit school essays and compositions and term papers.
And then, at last, I retired. Promising myself—promising everyone I knew—that I would finally begin writing a blog, I found myself totally intimidated not just by the many blogging platforms, but by the paralyzing fear around the thought, “What if I start my blog, and no one wants to read it?”
Assistance arrived in the form of a new friend whose relative suggested a good blogging forum. Nervous and uncertain of unfamiliar technology, I finally took the plunge. Literally asking my angels for a title and motto for my blog, I found my fingers typing them out. I struggled through my inexperience and created the first page. And, finally, pressing the “Publish” button at last, on October 22, 2017, the post Princess Diana Saved My Life finally appeared.
I’ve written well over 100 blog posts since then, on topics encompassing everything from spiritual beliefs to brussels sprouts, from royalty to poverty to pets to toilet paper–essays that I work hard to craft and polish. In the process I’ve gained a few—just a few—followers, and another few dedicated readers who, themselves leery of a form of technology they did not grow up with, won’t punch the “Follow” button, but still regularly read my maunderings. Sometimes I acquire a few “Likes”; more often, I hear later from friends who particularly enjoyed a new column. Oddly, many of my closest friends and family members never once look at anything I’ve written, while complete strangers and other bloggers laud me.
But it doesn’t matter, really, whether I acquire a following or Likes or even readers. For the simple truth is, I write for my own pleasure. I write out of dedication to the craft of writing. I write because the act of composition embodies everything that I am.
And now I proudly wear my crystal quill-and-inkwell pendant, recognizing at last that I always deserved to do so; that I have always been an author; that a lack of publication never once dimmed my enthusiasm or desire to write. Poetry, children’s stories, short stories, books—all are gathered within my file cabinet and occupy space on my computer, possibly doing no more than collecting dust, but evidence, nonetheless, of my intense desire, always, to follow my heart and write.
Perhaps, like the poet Emily Dickinson, the body of my works will be discovered someday after my death, and be recognized and published. Perhaps not. But it doesn’t matter. I am not writing to please a faceless public; I am writing because it is, inescapably, entwined within my soul.