By Elizabeth Langosy for Talking Writing
9/9/09 seems like an auspicious day to start blogging. No one has succeeded in convincing me (despite more attempts than I care to recall) that dates and times that align do not have mystical significance. When I glance at the clock and it reads 11:11, all is right with the world.
My entrance into the blogosphere is made possible by my decision, six months ago, to accept an early retirement offer from Harvard University so that I could focus on writing short stories. At that moment, I was 58, exactly half a century older than I was when I discovered that books did not magically appear in shops and libraries but were created by people who wrote down stories they made up. What a fantastic concept! I immediately knew that I wanted to be a fiction writer when I grew up. Not only did I love to read, but I was constantly inventing stories in my head. I never gave up on that dream—it just took me a very long time to get here.
In the past five decades, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to put words together to convey everything from the benefits of a home database to the emptiness of a shattered friendship. I married an artist, raised two daughters, and worked full-time at a freewheeling assemblage of mostly creative jobs that included stints as a computer game designer, video scriptwriter, and communications manager. I wrote fiction in spurts of varying intensity, in inverse proportion to the intensity of whatever job I happened to have at the time and the amount of guilt I felt in squirreling myself away from my family on fleeting weekends at home.
Then, with seven years to go before my expected retirement date and the freedom to finally focus on my own writing, I suddenly found myself with the chance to do it NOW. And exactly where am I now? Well, let’s see…I’m a Harvard retiree (as of one week ago) living in a happy, somewhat chaotic two-family house with my artist husband, oldest daughter, son-in-law, and two irresistible grandchildren, ages three and five. My younger daughter, who recently moved back to Boston from Los Angeles to be closer to all of us, lives around the corner. I have a room of my own—the former pantry of the 1890 Victorian that was converted into the two-family—that contains the essentials for fiction-writing and has great views of my daylily garden and the sunset.
I’ve spent the past week clearing my writing desk of accumulated junk mail, Spongebob Squarepants tattoos, old business cards, outdated Whole Foods coupon books, stray buttons and coins, and other detritus of a too-busy life. The opportunity I’ve been waiting for is at hand. I have three stories drafted and honed over the past decade and new (perhaps better) ideas on the back burner. The Writer’s Market lists both literary agents and magazine editors. Poets & Writers warns of approaching contest deadlines. My loyal writers group waits for my manuscripts, red pens poised.
Now where do I begin?