September 29, 2013

Quite a bit has happened since we downsized over a year ago and moved into a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. But the really big news this year is that my novel FISH KICKER was accepted by MuseItUp, a publishing company located in Canada.

The first chapter of FISH KICKER started out as a short story. It appeared in and was voted story of the month. After a few people said they wanted to know more about my protagonist, Sharon Wolf, I expanded the short story into a novel. So, after several years of daydreaming (subconscious writing) and hard work at the computer pounding out a story line, the novel was completed. The publication date is set for some time late winter or early Spring 2014.

It’s interesting to look back on the path that my writing life has taken. I’ve always had fun creating words, I mean the basic construction of words, letter by letter. Even before I could write or read I made squiggle marks in the dirt with a stick and I suppose you could say that was the launching of my writing career.

During our downsizing I dug up an old diary that my sister gave me one Christmas many years ago. I posted a blog piece during our move about finding this diary. But so much was going on back then that I didn’t have the time to unlock the book and read what treasures might be contained in these pages.

This morning I opened the Dear Diary. I was sixteen years old and here is the first sentence, “I sure hope my future is filled with more fun and excitement than my past.” On this first page I write that I anticipate going to a surprise birthday party for a school friend, Ann. I judiciously wrote in the diary every day until May. Then I stopped writing and there is not another entry until the end of the year where I summarize everything that happened on the days where the pages had been left blank.

The diary has many entries such as, “Nothing happened today,” and “I am so bored.” But then scattered through these 365 pages are small details of a father struggling to make ends meet, and a mother angry, over-worked and feeling trapped. I don’t describe what is happening to my mother but there are entries like, “Mom is really getting in the dumps. Dad better wise up soon or she’ll be crazy by the time he is ready to collapse from overwork. The crazy fool. Some times I wonder if he is my father the way he cares so little for us.” I read between these scanty lines and remember the difficulties in our family life.  There are subtle entries. I write on one page, “Mom called me lazy.” Later I call myself lazy because I have not written in the diary, “Mom was right, I am lazy, but I won’t let her know that.”

I have traveled to many places that when I was a teenager were only daydreams. I remember sitting in an apple tree in late summer, the air filled with the smell of fermenting fallen fruit, and I could have never imagined that one day I’d have coffee and crusty French bread for breakfast in an outdoor cafe in Paris. I still carry a journal with me wherever I travel. My favorite paper is in the Rhodia notebooks because I like the feel of the paper and the ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

I was disappointed when I opened that old Dear Diary and found that I’d left so many pages empty. I can only guess that boredom was so overwhelming that it became too painful to write about. Or, it could have been that it was too difficult and frustrating to write all the details of a complex teen life. There were no entries describing my dreams or of my problem with sleeping and lying awake for hours listening to the wind outside, cars passing, or the feeling of uneasiness listening to the walls creak in our small house as they contracted in the cooling night air.

When we downsized I opened an old trunk that my dad gave me years and years ago. It was a convenient place to stuff copies of stories rejected by publishers and to hide away my load of old notebooks. I don’t have the energy or the time to go through all of the thousands of entries in these journals that mark time in my life like musical notes, some crying the blues, some joyous jazzy notes, a bit of bawdy rock’n roll that depicts one stage of my life, or the soft gentle words I whispered while making love to my new husband. I’ve put these journals in a bookshelf, and I suppose one day I’ll get around to picking through them. It will be interesting to see when I stopped writing about being bored.

I still keep a journal and I love to write in darkly lit bars and restaurants at the end of the lunch hour crush. I like the energy in these places. A margarita or a glass of white wine, a bit of food and a notebook is all I need to make me feel like the world is all right. There could be major social issues brewing in the world, loved one’s in ill health, my own body presenting me with trouble, but for that hour while I muse in my journal I pretend that it’s all going to be just fine.

Looking at the pages of Dear Diary I realize that what I’d hoped to find when I opened the book was not what I had thought about people, or what I saw or even ate, but what I wanted to know about my teen world–what was it like to be me.


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15 Responses to DEAR DIARY

  1. thelma straw on October 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    What memories we have hidden away in closets or memories or notebooks. When I was graduating from the 8th Grade in Buie’s Creek, N.C., I was legally the Valedictorian – but they forbade that, as I was a girl!! So, they let me be Class Poet. I’ll never forget the first line of the poem I read to the audience of Campbell College, where the ceremony was held! ” Touch me not, o Death, but pass me by ! …” Actually, I was never a gloomy kid, but very outgoing! Have no idea where that poem came from or why the topic!!! Thelma Straw, smiling at the memory!

  2. Sharon on October 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Very powerful. Makes one think. Shakes up my memory bank.

  3. Susan on October 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    wow, how we change as the years go by. Glad to have the “teen” years in the past. And glad we grew up and can look back. Yes, it jogged the memory bank.

  4. G. Miki Hayden on October 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I’m really happy about Fish Kicker the novel. I really, really liked Fish Kicker the short story. I hope this is the first of many in print.

  5. Ann Saari on October 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Margaret, I remember that surprise party. It was my sixteenth birthday. I was sitting on the sofa hand sewing on a green tweed wool vest when the door bell rang…. and it was all of you, my wonderful high school girl friends! What fun! Thank you for the surprise and for reminding me of it again. Ann

  6. Marsha R. West on October 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    What a brilliantly written post, Margaret. Certainly churned up the memories for me. I guess most of us of a certain age kept a journal for at least a time. I remember mine. So painful to read, as an adult, that I threw it out! Oh, the angst of those pre-teen, early teenage years! God it’s amazing we survived.
    Looking back should serve as a reminder that since we survived those times, we can survive anything, even if we become a bit worn around the edges. 🙂
    Look forward to reading your book when it comes out, Margaret.

  7. Marsha R. West on October 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I would like to FB or Tweet this, but I can’t find those buttons. 🙁

  8. Marsha R. West on October 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Okay, I found it. How about that, right there under the “Share” button. LOL

  9. Kevin Cole on October 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Congrats on the new publish, I’m sure it will be the success you hope for. Always great to read what’s what from your side of the planet, you are always involved in te most interesting. Looking forward to next up.

  10. Jeri on October 8, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Ahhhh, so bittersweet! I loved your words and thoughts; memories of so many years gone by. Thank you for sharing – and thank you for giving us all Fishkicker. I’m proud of your hard work and perseverance. It’s a gift to all of us.

  11. Eric Parker on October 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Wonderful blog Marge
    Very moving
    Really made me feel all those lost years, sad, nostalgic, hopeful – days of endless promise, disappointment and boredom : )
    thanks so much

    Can’t wait to read Fish Kicker.


  12. Toddi/Claudia on October 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Yes, it is fascinating to have a moment when all of your past comes floating by in your conscience that you never knew existed. At least, you thoug ht you forgot. I remember, as your sister, your dreams of travel and of escaping to a world new and unknown. You have succeeded past your wildest dreams,and I admire you for you tenacity and sharing your life with so many people around the world. You are a world traveler, discover,and passionate woman and I am proud of you.

  13. Chloe C on October 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Love that picture of the notebooks in the suitcase!

    Never kept a diary during a dark childhood. You cannot write things that are unmentionable while they are still happening. When you are young.
    I read a lot of biographies with a flashlight under the covers.
    Thankfully, there were other people in the world than the ones I knew.

    On a much lighter note, did you ever lose a notebook?!
    I have lost 2 in public places and they haunt me. Did anyone read the stuff?
    Will one of them surface one day with scanned entries from some crazy lady?
    Looking forward to your book : )

  14. […] Photo Credit: Pushing Time […]

    • Pushing Time on February 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      How very cool to have my photo from my DEAR DIARY blog post appear on your cool blog. I am certainly a fan of diaries and journals. I look forward to reading more of your blog as I am now a subscriber. Opportunity knocks!!

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