I always dreamed of being a writer. It seemed like the perfect career choice. Sell millions of books and make millions of dollars working whenever and wherever I wanted, doing exactly what I loved. It was a simple plan. I would control my own destiny and not have to worry about the rat race, childcare, or anyone else’s demands or deadlines but my own. It was a wonderful fantasy, but like so many of life’s most wonderful daydreams, the real world has a way of intruding upon dreams and stamping them out. Still I didn’t give up without a fight. But after a few serious attempts and several dozen rejection letters my dream of becoming a best-selling author was slowly dying. The closest I came to a successful beginning was a request for the completed manuscript from a publisher, who unfortunately by the time I responded to the editor’s request, had merged with another, larger publishing house. I’m not sure why that was the final straw for me. Looking back it seems like an odd time to abandon my dream, just when I finally had a reason to hope. Perhaps I was already feeling the pressure of my other life, the one that existed beyond the voices in my imagination. For whatever reason, it was shortly after that experience I packed away my dream of becoming a best-selling author and decided I better find out what awaited me out in the real world. Some dreams die with a bang. Others with a whimper. Mine resembled the latter.
So I got on with the business of life. I started a career, got married, had children and assumed my writing days were behind me. Years passed and old dreams, never completely silenced, beckoned once again. This time I resisted. I was too busy. I was in the midst of a challenging career, guiding little minds and bodies into competent adulthood, caring for an aging parent. There was no time to indulge in daydreams again. Later. I would have more time later to play, but then I was consumed with work. Real work. The gritty kind of getting up each morning, getting kids off to school, working all day, carpools at night, off to soccer, softball, lacrosse games and finally to the assisted living facility on the weekends. Not only was I working, I was exhausted. Too exhausted to even think of writing again.
The urge became stronger. I ignored it. When I could squeeze in a few hours for myself I indulged in my other passion…reading. It was about then I discovered Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. I was introduced to the series so late I was able to read all four books within a few weeks without having to wait for the release date of each subsequent title. I remember reading her response to an interview question about how she came up with the idea for the story and she replied something along the lines of Bella and Edward being these voices in her head who would never shut up. I suspected putting their story down on paper was her way of exorcising the voices from her head.
I could relate to her predicament, and was relieved to discover someone else shared my own. The voice in my head was getting louder too. So far I was successfully ignoring it but it wasn’t going away, and knowing my mother (dearly departed by this point) it wasn’t going to go away.
I wasn’t particularly alarmed by the constant nagging. Given my somewhat unusual family background, hearing voices was to be expected. I was raised in a family of psychics, though only on my mother’s side. I was always the practical one. I had a job, a husband, three kids and a mortgage. I dabbled in but never fully embraced the woo-woo stuff.
But after the deaths of my mother, grandmother, aunt and older cousins I became increasingly aware I was the only one left to carry on the family tradition. I guess they figured that out earlier than I did. Hence the nagging. Some might refer to it as haunting, but they would be the innocent ones. Those who are firmly convinced life ends at death and there’s a definitive line between the two. The here and the here-after and rarely shall the two versions of the here’s intersect.
No surprise I finally succumbed to the pressure. My mother rarely asked me for anything, even in life. She’d pretty much left me alone to find my own way once she was gone, so it would have been pretty petty of me to refuse her request. I just didn’t know where to start. We were not talking about years of accumulated, hard-won knowledge, but life-times worth, generation upon generation, passed down mother to daughter, so much lost already along the way. I felt like one of those monks in the dark ages, tasked with the job of keeping alive the wisdom of the ancient world, in a time when the light of knowledge was rapidly fading.
My own assignment was not on so grand a scale, but it would be a terrible loss to just let my ancestors’ life work drift away into obscurity. An obscurity that would take life-times to recover from, to painstakingly gather again and preserve for future generations. I didn’t want to be the weak link in the chain. I didn’t want to be the one to break, not under the pressures they faced, but because I simply couldn’t be bothered.
So what was passed to me in secret, in years of conversations, in study and practice, I would write down and in doing so serve twin purposes…performing this service for the women who gave me so much, for the woman who gave me life, and for myself, to unlock the box I stuffed my dreams into so many years ago. I would write. I would preserve. I would give voice to my dreams and provide a voice for those whose voices have been silenced … at least to this world.