Have you experienced that moment when you examined your life and realized you hadn’t accomplished all that you wanted to do? Mine came shortly after my father’s death. Up to that point I had achieved most of the goals I’d set for myself back in high school. I had a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textile Design earned at Rhode Island School of Design. I had my career as a lace designer for nine years on Fifth Avenue in New York City. My life included marriage, two children and a spacious home in New Jersey. I had everything I’d ever wanted except for one: I never wrote anything outside of my journals.
It had been a hard choice for me back in Plainville, Connecticut, to decide which direction to choose - art or writing. My family didn’t feel I could make a living in either. Women back then became secretaries or teachers, and once they married they stayed home and took care of their husband, house and children. I’ve never followed the norm. I continued to work as a textile designer, and when that ended, I made clothing for a local woman’s store.
My first efforts into writing were done on an electric typewriter where I used an equal number of ribbons for typing and correcting. What frustration. Thank goodness, my father left me with enough money to invest in a computer. My first attempts to write for publication brought the usual rejections. But I kept at it, often hiding in our trailer in the back yard so I could concentrate. By then my children were old enough to fend for themselves and were warned to only call me if the house was on fire.
One of my first sales was an anecdote to Writer’s Digest. I had received some books from an editor. When I cut open the package, gray stuffing material fell to the floor and my son said, “That’s what I call a rejection. They burn your manuscript and send you the ashes.” That earned me twenty-five dollars. I went on to be an editor of a newspaper, and began selling short stories while I continued to write my novels.
During this time, I discovered Romance Writers of America and attended conferences whenever possible. It was at these that I met Harlequin editors, Paula Eykelhof and Victoria Curran, who listened with great patience to my stories. “Just Like Em,” finally made it and will be published in February.
The one thing I’ve learned and pass on to you – keep at it. Don’t give up. Most likely, your dreams won’t be fulfilled overnight, but they’ll never happen if you stop trying. It also helps if you have wonderful children like my son and daughter, who provide humor and support. I plan to keep them.