In 2000, I packed my things and left my husband of 26 years.  We had spent a lot of time & money in marriage counseling & it was worth it.  We were sitting in a group session one day.  A woman was screaming at her husband.  Her face was red, and the tendons were standing out on her neck.  I forget now what it was she was screaming at him about, but loosely translated it was, “Change to suit me!”  My husband looked at me & I looked at him.  When it was my turn to share, I said, “I never wanted him to have to change to suit me.”  My husband nodded & said the same thing.  That was in December.  It took a while to find a lawyer & find a place to live, but I moved out on July 6, 2000.

26 years to the day after we were married.

I cried as I packed & I was scared.  I was 50 years old & I had never made more than $10K a year in my life.  But the previous summer, I discovered that I had a talent for ballroom dance–and a sudden burst of energy, the like of which I had never known before.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was suffering from thyroiditis.  I thought I was well for the first time in my life.

I lived in New Jersey, then, I moved to Bayville, a small town on the Barnegat Bay.  As I drove over the Raritan River, I felt a sense of peace.  I KNEW, down to the soles of my feet, that I was doing the right thing.

The house was lovely, with a view of the bay.  I knew the mother of the woman next door to me.  I hoped to own my own dance studio one day.  I danced 4 to 8 hours a day (thyroiditis, remember?).  I became a good dancer–but I never learned how to be a good business woman.  I bought my own studio a year later.  In 3 months, I was broke.

And sick.  My thyroid had burned itself out.  My levels were so low that it affected my ability to read, write and do arithmetic.  Later, a neurologist said that when the levels were too high, I probably had a stroke.  Anyway, I had to close out a business without being able to understand simple declarative sentences.  I could understand the individual words, but not the meaning of the sentence.  I remember looking at my tax return.  The instructions said, “Send this copy into the IRS.  Keep this copy for your records.”

I couldn’t figure out what to do with them.

First, I cried.  Then, I called my ex-husband.  I gave him temporary power of attorney.  He read the instructions out loud to me & helped me close up the business.  To this day, we are good friends, even though he has remarried.

I healed.  I tried to work at a lot of things, but I had lost so much cognitive ability that it was hard to do anything.

Writing fiction was out of the question.

Slowly, the artificial thyroid hormone began to stabilize my endocrine system.  Reading came back in 6 months.  Arithmetic took 2 years.  Writing took 6 years.  I got a job at a garden center as a cashier.  That gave me practice with arithmetic & memory (we didn’t have scanners & I had to memorize the prices).  I love plants & part of my job was looking after them.

An uncle died & left me a little money, not much, but enough for a down payment on a house.  One of the men who worked at the garden center lived in Pennsylvania.  He had a large home that cost 1/5 of what it would have cost in New Jersey.  Also, I knew that if I couldn’t find a job out here, we could carpool to New Jersey.

I started looking online.  Before the divorce, I had begun a wish book, a scrapbook of pictures of the way I wanted my life to be.  I had cut out a picture of house in the woods.

It was the same style as one of the houses I saw online.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, in 2006, I drove out to Pennsylvania.  A wonderful real estate agent spent the day showing me about 12 houses.  I fell in love with this one.  It had skylights, a screened in porch as well as a deck, a fireplace and was surrounded by woods.  I remember driving up the road to the community.  A brook ran along the rode & we had to stop for wild turkeys.  2 deer walked calmly by as we got out of the car to look at the house.

Once again, I was scared, but this place had a feeling of rightness about it.

I made an offer, we negotiated for a while & I moved in on February 14, 2007.

And then, reality set in.

Thanks for your kind words. I apologize for the delay. I am new at this blogging business.

What would you like to hear about?

Erica

I got my first review yesterday.  The reader didn’t like the first two books.  Criticism is always helpful.  If it’s true, even in part, I can learn from it.  If it isn’t, it toughens me.  Life is hard, & as much as I would like it to be all puppies & kittens, it just isn’t.  Life has its wonders: hummingbirds & horses running & the sound of the stream down the hill from my house & the smell of the pines & good friends.  But it also has terrible things in it & I grew up with a lot of terrible things in my life.  My mother was a schizophrenic.  In the 1950s, there were no antipsychotics.  My arms were broken 4 times, twice on each arm, because she got mad at me.  I was burned a couple of times.

And each time, she told me it was my fault until I came to believe it.

So I know that I need criticism, even if it’s wrong, because until the day I die, there will always be a part of me that believes it was my fault.  So I need to keep practicing believing in myself.

And my work.

And I do.

There were no antipsychotics, but there were wonderful television shows that gave me hope.  A few years ago, Retro TV ran one of my favorites.  It was written by blacklisted writers, something I didn’t know 50 years ago.  The writing was so powerful that I remembered some of the dialogue, word for word, 50 years later.  That’s pretty impressive considering the fact that some days, I have trouble remembering where my keys were.

Anyway, last night, I had to remind myself that I didn’t write the Flynn Family Saga so that I could get pats on the back or make money.  I wrote it to pass along what those writers in the 1950s gave me.

Hope.

http://www.amazon.com

I come from a long line of story tellers.  When I was a kid, we lived upstairs from my grandparents.  Every Saturday morning, my grandfather made breakfast for me & told me stories about growing up in Canada.  I have tried several times to write these stories, but it never worked.  Some stories need to be told out loud.  But there are some that need written words.  Ray Bradbury had a way with language that still leaves me with a lump in my throat.

I started writing when I was 10.  I kept at it.  In the early 1990s, there were a group of writers in many genres on Prodigy.  There were no chat rooms, just bulletin boards.  The published writers shared their experience with writing, from the nuts & bolts to writer’s block to dealing with rejection slips.

Are any of you interested in writing?  Have you written anything?  I want to hear from you.  My email address is erica@flynnfamilysaga.com.

 

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These books are available from amazon.com.

 

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