A Blessing or a Curse? Guest Blog by Lynn Gardner
I wrote plays, road shows, special sacrament meetings programs for Christmas and Easter, leadership skits, then for 20 years, I wrote and edited a family newsletter. It wasn't until my kids began leaving the nest that I seriously began writing an actual book. No, wait! I was writing down a story. I wasn't actually writing a book because I didn't know how. I could tell a story, but there is a big difference in the two. I went to writer's conferences, took classes, bought a gazillion books on how to write, and I actually got published when I was 55!
Twelve books later, for reasons I won't go into here, I stopped telling stories. I stopped writing. Twelve grandchildren. Twelve books. That came out nice and even, and now I'm going to enjoy my grandkids while they still are at the age that gramma's are cool. That was the plan. No more angst. No more rewrites. No more last minute editing - (I can totally empathize with you on that, Stephanie.)
But somewhere between Emeralds and Espionage and Pearls and Peril, fifteen years ago, a ghost story began to haunt me. Year after year I put it aside, pushed it back into wherever it was coming from, and thought I was done with it. A couple of years ago, the ghost burst upon the scene again, demanding to be heard. I didn't have a work in progress, so in order to have something to read at my critique group, I dabbled with the story. But I didn't really want to get back into the writing world so I didn't take it too seriously, and was relieved when our group, which had been together for ten years or more, sort of dissolved because of busy schedules. Great! I really could retire from the writing scene, with the exception of maybe some little gift type books that didn't overtake my life with deadlines and guilt trips when I went to play with my husband or the grandkids.
My husband and I went to Thailand, Cambodia and China two years ago and not a single story line surfaced the entire 27 days we were gone. My husband and two of my daughters were actually quite relieved. They figured I'd been cured and they wouldn't have to suffer the angst with me when people said things like greed wasn't a motive for murder.
But the ghost wasn't about to shoved aside or edited out, or ignored. And so you'll find me harnessing myself to the computer once again and telling the story this ghost is insisting be told. We even took a 5000 mile trip in May visiting sites where the book will take place (on our way to the high school graduation of a granddaughter in Louisiana.)
So my question is this: Once a storyteller, always a storyteller? Is there no rest, no retiring from the creative process? Are we born with the storyteller DNA or genes or whatever it is and it is a fate we cannot escape? And do we really want to?
I'll get back to you when the ghost is finally laid to rest. In the meantime, how do you feel about that? Can you quit? Walk away and not create the stories that flow through your heads and spill out onto pages for others to enjoy? Is it a blessing or a curse?
Lynn Gardner is the bestselling author of the "jewel" mystery series, beginning with Emeralds and Espionage, and the Maggie McKenzie mystery series, beginning with Vanished. Her most recent book is Pursued. Lynn blogs at the V-Formation.