I first posted “The Story Behind the Message” in 2017 before my memoir was published. Now as I work on my second book, this post remains as relevant to me as ever.
Writing for me doesn’t get easier, Molly.
Rearranging my bookcase, I came across a book with the following inscription:
This is the story behind the message:
I had been writing for as long as I can remember. I saved many of my stories in longhand on scraps of paper, on faded yellow legal pads, and typed up on an old manual typewriter with multiple errors (I flunked typing in high-school). All were unedited and unfinished.
In the early 90s when I lived in the Washington DC area, I started to take writing more seriously by attending classes and conferences. One of the workshops was sponsored by the Smithsonian. I can’t remember for the life of me the woman who conducted the class. What I do remember was the cross section of adults who sat on folded chairs in the cramped room three stories below ground level at the Dillon Ripley Center. At one session, the instructor had invited her friend who was visiting from out of state, the author Molly Giles.
Molly looked to be about my age. She had reddish blond hair and a warm, earthy persona. I immediately wanted to be her best friend. She described the office she rented so she could write undisturbed.
After the class, I stood along side of the table where Molly was autographing her latest book: Creek Walk and Other Stories (still in print). She was poised with pen in hand ready to inscribe the book to me as I chatted on about how much I enjoyed her talk and how I thought writing was fun. She cocked an eyebrow at me as if I had just told her I still believed in the tooth fairy. Gently, she told me that writing could be difficult.
Now, over 20 years later, I have written many words, finished and published some stories. I completed a memoir and am investigating self-publishing venues. For me, writing is more arduous than exhilarating. My greatest strength is persistence.
How I wish I could meet with Molly over a mocha latte at some cozy coffee house. I know what she was trying to tell me so long ago. She was right.