I am a writer. My work has been published in magazines and the newspaper. I have received five writing contest awards. Even today, with the credentials to back up this statement, I am humbled by this title.
I’ll never forget the first time someone referred to me as a writer. In the early 1980s, I held the conviction that the earth was in deep trouble. Tropical rainforests were disappearing at an alarming rate. Declining populations of our North American songbirds served as my “canary in the mine.” With the passion of youth, I set out to inform the world. I volunteered for the Rainforest Action Network. I developed a slideshow on the impacts of rainforest destruction on songbirds, then proceeded to present my views to rotary clubs, local Audubon chapters and schools. I expanded my repertoire and created a slideshow on the parrots of the rainforest. I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted a wider audience. That’s when I turned to the written word. I wrote articles and submitted them to magazines. My first piece, Are We Losing Our Warblers?, appeared in Wildbird Magazine. The by-line indicated that I was a freelance writer. Writer? Me? Writers were famous people with talent. I had never been one of those kids driven to document events and feelings in a journal. I had studied the sciences in college.
I managed to get one more article, Parrots in Peril, published in Watchbird Magazine, before my first child was born. Despite all my efforts and the work of like-minded environmental preservationists, the tropical greenery burned on. My flame to save our songbirds and their rainforest habitat shrunk. My attention had shifted to loving and caring for my daughter. Yet, that by-line, that proclamation of “writer” caught in indelible black ink, had shifted my view of the world and myself. Someday, I would become a writer.
Almost seven years passed before I picked up the torch and placed my fingers upon the computer keyboard once more. Once again, my love for this planet had spurred me into action. This time I intended to write a nonfiction book about environmental catastrophes. The first chapter was to be on the topic of the devastating impact of the introduction of the mosquito on Hawaiian birds. I never finished that chapter or the book. During my research, I had fallen in love with the native Hawaiian culture. Their poetical sayings held beauty and wisdom. Even Michener hadn’t documented this element of the islands in his historical novel, Hawaii. Why hadn’t someone captured the essence of these amazing people before their customs were lost and forgotten?
My husband first suggested that I should write a historical fiction novel about Hawaii. What? What did I know about creative writing? I was trained as a scientist. Yet, the idea stuck.
I learned the craft of creating vibrant prose through classes and workshops. Along the way, I delved into writing short story and personal narratives. Last year, I joined the Writer’s on the Journey critique group. These talented and supportive writers have taught me volumes. With their help, I hope to create a novel worthy of publication. Meanwhile, I can say with confidence and conviction, I am a writer.
When did your journey begin? When did you first consider yourself a writer?