Sunday, August 4, 2013

Milestones



Two days from now, on Tuesday I shall turn seventy-two years old. To some, that may seem old. It does to me too, if I say it—but I don’t feel it. Forgetting the aches and pains, I could be in my early forties embarking on a new career in writing as if it has not taken me all seventy-two years to get to this stage.

At this stage I have two traditionally published books, a musical (produced in Ilion, NY and Daytona Beach, Florida) with original music and lyrics, an award winning young adult book (self published) and three more novels in various stages of publication readiness.

The Writers Vineyard is about the writing life, a life you can’t experience unless you are living it. I never thought it would take this long to figure out how to live.

In my senior year in high school, my counselor advised me to take a shorthand course. He was smart enough to know I would get no free ride to college – though to his and my surprise I was offered a scholarship based on need. This fell through—my parents didn’t sign the application. In high school I worked from one until five in a BOCES program (my mother desperately needed the money). I got up at 5:30, started classes at seven a.m., left at noon, grabbed lunch at The Shack, outside Miami Edison Senior High, and walked to work at Financial Displays, the company that made time and temperature bank signs with photos of happy people who borrowed or saved money at their banks.

When I arrived home around seven in the evening, I had little interest in doing shorthand homework, besides I always got an A on our Friday tests. One day prior to report card time, my shorthand teacher asked me why I didn’t turn in my daily homework. I told her I didn’t have time to do it. The rest of my classes were the Academic – hope to go to college level – and I enjoyed that homework.

She said, “So, what are you going to do with your life?”

No one had ever asked me that before. I planned to be a famous actress or dress designer. I told her, “Live until I die, I guess.”

Disgusted with my answer, she told me in front of the entire class my answer was stupid. “Of course everyone lives until they die.”

I have since learned that is not totally true. Observation tells me more people than not exist rather than live up to their potential. Some accept stunted personal and spiritual growth because they do not believe they can achieve a goal. Some accept the advice of a misguided counselor. No one can predict the outcome; it is the journey that is important.

My creative bent surfaced when I was in my twenties, living in Poughkeepsie. Two of my children were in school and the littlest followed me around as I performed with The Children’s Theater. I became the “traveling set” designer. This provided the confidence to take a class in Russian at the community college. Then I added one in creative writing.

As my husband transferred around the U.S. and the Middle East, I took the opportunity to study at whatever university or college was nearby. I added Farsi to my list of languages.

At the ripe old age of thirty-eight I had divorced twice (the same husband), spent a couple of years on my own running an art store and gallery, boarding horses and renting out a cottage on my property. Then I met Bob whom I eventually married. He asked me what I really wanted to do with my life and I instantly answered, “Write.”

He said, “So why aren’t you?”

I shrugged, thinking of the work it was taking to survive with my three daughters. Not long after, I subscribed to the Children’s Literature Course – the one that used to advertise on matchbook covers. Within the year, I submitted my first story and a week later received a check. This is easy, I thought. Ha! It took many more years and a lot of hard work to get here.

Fourteen plays and seven or eight books later, here I am, on the threshold of being who I want to be – a writer.

P.S. That shorthand teacher always gave me a C in spite of my test scores.

Veronica Helen (Ronnie) Hart lives in Ormond Beach, Florida. Her books-in-waiting are a Blenders Story (untitled), sequel to The Prince of Keegan Bay, The Reluctant Daughters, and Silent Autumn – this last one now going through the gauntlet of critique groups.


3 comments:

Big Mike said...

My grand daughter once asked, "Pa pa, how do you know so many thinks?" I replied, "Because I'm so damn old." Weird how you only know what life is all about when you get close to the end.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Veronica Helen Hart said...

Ahem. "Close to the end" is relative.

Michele said...

I love your story--your journey. Sometimes it takes a while to decide what you want to do "when you grow up!" But sounds like you did a lot of exploring along the way and learned a lot, all of which will somehow work its way into your books making them richer for having lived your life instead of just existing.