THE STORY OF
THE GIRL WITH THE BOOK
(a short history of a reading and writing life)
My relationship with books is truly legendary among my family members and anyone who has ever known me. It was my destiny to have an intimate connection with the written word.. Below is a picture of me with my maternal grandfather where I am sitting on his lap at two years old. He is looking at the camera, but I am not. That is because I have a book open in front of me. Of course, I couldn’t read the words, but I’m told after the story was read to me a few times, I would have it memorized.
Books have been my solace in times of trouble, my friends when I was lonely, and a place of refuge when I wanted to escape. In elementary school I loved reading about women in American history such as Dolly Madison and Abigail Adams, which was probably due to a curiosity about my New England roots (my maternal grandfather was a tenth generation American, a descendant of William Bradford). As a young teen I discovered mainstream fiction, to the chagrin of my mother, who was not a reader. When she told her friend her 13- year-old daughter was reading “The Godfather”, her friend told her I was too young to be reading such a heinously graphic book, and my mother took the book away. Of course, this only heightened my curiosity, and I bought another copy and read it at night via flashlight.
One of the greatest gifts I ever got was from my eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Steinberg. That gift was an introduction to a work of Charles Dickens called “Great Expectations.” After reading that, everything snowballed. I wanted to read all the great works of Dickens and others.
In high school I discovered Journalism, and was an editor of "La Yuca," the school paper. I thought journalism would be my life’s career, till I took Journalism 101 at Los Angeles Valley College and was told horrific stories about being a rookie reporter (and covering things like dead children in refrigerators) and that changed my direction. I had always thought I would major in journalism, and without that, I really didn’t know what to do next. What would I major in? I had been doing creative writing since I was about 10 years old, and I knew I wanted a major that would incorporate my writing skills. I don’t remember how I decided on English; it just seems like the most obvious choice if I wasn’t going to do journalism. I went to college when I could after that, on and off over a period of years, between marriages and having kids and many different jobs.
I truly became “the girl with the book” while working at an insurance company in the mid-1980’s. I read incessantly during all my breaks and lunches to keep from going insane at a dead end boring job. My coworkers whispered behind my back that I was nuts. I felt like since I couldn’t really study literature and writing at school during those times, I would do it on my own.
I began amassing a library about this time as well. I joined this Collector’s Library Book Club, and I bought and bought, and read and read. I have truly driven the men in my life crazy with my books. They have bitched I have spent too much money; they are too heavy when we move, and they divert my attentions away from them. And God forbid if you have more than one copy of the same book!! What’s up with that, anyway??
That library kept expanding over a 30 year period. When I went back to college to finish the Bachelor's Degree I had been picking at since I was 19, I really starting acquiring books of all kinds. My newest passion was literary analysis, and my library filled with Norton Critical Editions and anthologies. I finally finished college, getting my Bachelors in 2004 and my Master's in English in 2007. I planned to get the Ph.D, but in 2009 life took an unexpected direction, and I found myself moving to Minnesota, the only place my husband Tony could get a job during the recession.
I won't lie, leaving behind my teaching career, my friends, my family, and everything I held dear in California and Nevada was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. But I've reinvented myself so many times in 50 years, so I could do it again. So I decided I would venture back to an old childhood dream of mine of being a novelist.
I completed my first novel in 2012. I just finished my sixth at the end of 2018. It's some of the hardest work I've ever done, but I'm hooked. I'm not happy if I'm not writing. I need to be productive, and need to have a reason to get up in the morning (other than my family, of course!) The books may never make the bestseller list, but for me, they symbolize an accomplishment. They will be my legacy, if nothing else.
And I hope I can share them with you, and you get the same enjoyment from reading them as I did from writing them. Thanks for visiting my website, and for your support.