Why Shirley Writes
From an early age I had stories in my head. I would make up songs and stories any time I was alone and daydreaming. I was rather a lonely child so I think the stories made me feel less alone. I had a good family with 5 brothers and sisters, but my mom and dad were so busy they didn’t have a lot of time for us. I became an avid reader and would read anything I could get my hands on. We lived in the country so the Book Mobile was a lifeline. I wish I had been a better student, because I still struggle with punctuation and grammar. Often, I would read instead of doing my homework, and quickly do it on the long bus ride to school.
I always wanted to write but am a procrastinator, so instead of writing, I dreamt about it. I did write some poems and short stories but never did anything with them. I was living in Wyoming when some friends decided to start a writing group. By that time, I had written a short version of Beyond Despair but didn’t have any idea what to do with it. I did ask my creative writing teacher to read it. She was extremely impressed and said she had a hard time putting it down. But she said my grammar needed a lot of work and suggested I take some English classes. I later took a college English course and aced it, but life got in the way so my book was put on the back burner.
Over the years I took Creative Writing courses and even joined a Meet-Up writing group. I learned a lot from all of this but also became very frustrated. Every critique and reading of portions of Beyond Despair was criticized and I was given so many ways to change and “fix” it that I became extremely discouraged; and again, my book went on the back burner! I liked my book the way it was written but I tried to work with the suggestions and tips I would get from other “writers” (most of which had never published anything), only to get more and more frustrated.
It wasn’t until my mother passed away at the age of 97 that I finally made a decision. My book was good despite what others said so I was going to publish it. I had no idea how to go about getting this done, so I advertised on Craigslist, (of all places) for an editor. I got emails from all over the country offering their services. If I had taken one such “editor” up on their offer my book would still be on the back burner! She was a scam artist!
But as luck would have it, I found a journalist who lived very close to me and we started working together. I split my book up into 4 parts and started working on part one. I found out very quickly that my punctuation needed work, (and still does) as well as my grammar. It took over a year of hard work but my book was finally ready for publication. My editor became my publisher so I didn’t have to find someone else to help get it published. It was a big learning curve for both of us.
I was astonished when friends and acquaintances found out I was an author, and they overwhelmed me by buying my book. Even though I thought Beyond Despair was good, that was only my opinion and the opinion of a couple of others who read it, including my husband! I had no idea that people would come to me over and over and tell me they loved my book and were unable to put it down. From there and word-of-mouth, people I barely knew ordered Beyond Despair and I got the same feedback.
I just received an email from a lady I met on our last cruise. My husband, Bob, is my best advocate. He tells everyone I am a “famous author.” As a result, this lady said she got my book from the library to read. I feel very blessed to be 70 years old with my first book published. It’s a long-cherished dream fulfilled.
I wrote a children’s book many years ago just for fun. With the help of my daughter, Rachel, we are preparing to have it published. Rachel is an artist and is working hard to create wonderful pictures to go along with the book. I hope to have Pampa and her friends and the Miracle of Friendship published soon.