What Inspired my Current Work in Progress
I have wanted to be a writer since I was eight years. When I was in the third grade I read “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott and was inspired by Jo, the tomboyish sister who aspired to be a writer. Eventually I read “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys”, following Jo’s progress. I started writing my first book when I was nine.
Since then, I have started many manuscripts that I felt were destined to be the next Great American Novel. I have never finished even one. Eventually I concluded that while I had great beginnings and some pretty good endings, I had nothing to put in the middle to link all that greatness together.
I gave up on the idea of being a novelist and instead wrote encyclopedia entries, news features, music reviews and other simple non-fiction pieces. It wasn’t what I had envisioned, but at least I was writing.
I had many jobs through the years, including being a fundraiser for a non-profit and a social worker for a mental health clinic. The very best part of those jobs was writing foundation grant proposals and patients’ social histories. Again…I was excited just to have the opportunity to write something…anything.
My 50th birthday was a turning point for me. I did a thorough examination of my life up to that point and checked off all the things I had accomplished. Then I made a list of all the things I still wanted to do. I asked myself what I truly desired.
The answer was clear. I wanted to fulfill my dream of making a living doing what I loved most. I wanted to write a novel.
But I still didn’t have a subject.
Write what you know! Write what you know! Those words echoed in my head.
What did I know better than the emotions, thoughts and actions of a 50 year old woman who is ever so slightly unfulfilled? I figured that surely I wasn’t the only 50 year old woman who was doing a life review.
I decided I had a voice and something to say. Maybe other women of a certain age would want to hear what I had to say, if I could just find the right way to say it.
I started my Work in Progress in March 2011. Life has distracted me with almost everything imaginable since I started my novel, The Big 5-0. Health problems, job loss, financial devastation, a death in the family…all were huge obstacles that had to be overcome.
And yet, I plod along, never giving up on my self and my tenacious character, Matilda Mason, and the situations that are thrust upon both of us. I know she can succeed…and I know I can, too.
An excerpt from The Big 5-0:
“The fact was that this birthday was making me feel needy and nervous. Suddenly I was on a deadline to accomplish something in my life.
I looked at what I had done so far…raising a daughter, helping my mother and father in their business, being a good wife and a pretty good garden reporter…and saw that those things were OK. Much more than OK…even excellent.
But that wasn’t all I wanted to accomplish. Those things were only a part of me and the most important part of me had been held back and needed to emerge.
Now I had a shelf life. And it had a short sell-by date.
I had maybe another 25 good years left. I had a lot left to do in those years. I had to find myself and I had to do it fast.”
So here I am: my authentic, true self at last. I’m proving to me that I can really, really do this. I’m writing and hoping someone will read it. I’ve got to do it fast!
Peggy Browning is a writer who views her life after age 50 through rose-colored bifocals. She writes about issues facing the boomer crowd with humor and wit. She has reinvented herself many times through life’s exciting adventures, varied jobs and diverse careers. She’s been a special education teacher, social worker, waitress, newspaper carrier, newspaper correspondent, fruit stand owner, nurse’s aide, janitor and writer/entrepreneur. And that’s just a few of the jobs she’s been paid to do during her first 5 decades…Catch her musings about life after 50 on her blog at her website, http://fiftyodd.com, her opinion column and feature news stories at http://pioneer-sentinel.com, and blogs at http://galtime.com and http://zestnow.com. Visit her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fifty-Odd/327132190645107.