Judith McNaught is, to me, a wonderful writer. In the past few years I have probably read all or most of her books more than two or three times each. In the latter 1980’s I met Ms. McNaught as she sat at a table loaded with her books and diligently signed copies for each of the people lined up to see her. She was new to the romance world, her books were just starting to hit the shelves and I remember seeing this beautifully dressed lady, her pen in hand, smiling as she spoke with each of the people ahead of me, asking their names and autographing their respective copies of her book.
By the time I reached the table I was probably drooling. I loved books. Paperback novels. Gothic romances. Historical romances. Hardbound copies of classics. I was a closet writer….I kept journals, diaries and wrote lengthy letters (often never given). As I stuttered my name, I told her I had always dreamed of writing and to my amazement she did not laugh. Remember, this was the 80’s and it was intimidating even to me to admit I wanted to be an author. I honestly cannot remember much of that conversation, but she and I talked for a few moments about her new career, how if I really wanted it…then I should pursue my dreams, her kids (her characters had been named after her son and her daughter) and I gave her my name and she signed my copy of her book. That book is still in my bookshelf today.
I immediately went out and bought my first computer…lol…a Radio Shack Tandy with this huge floppy disk that held the operating system. In other words, if I’d lost that disk, my computer would have no brain. I enrolled in creative writing classes at a local university and I began to write…….
Then my life started getting busy. I found myself too occupied with my day job to write, I had been married a couple of years and soon was expecting my first child. Life got busier and that Tandy soon was delegated to a corner of our spare room. Visions of Victoria Holt and Gothic castles on foggy moors were replaced with days filled with bottles and diapers and stressful days at work. I still read those wonderful books but had no time to give to my writing. Another daughter came, I bought another computer….and still I did not commit myself to my dream. For several years life became a jumble of anxiety, being a mom and overcoming several obstacles in my personal life; and that dream…of writing…was put on a shelf.
Fast forward to the new twenty-first century. My mother was sick with late Stage 3 ovarian cancer and was fighting for her life each day for over three years. I was with her almost every day of that period and we’d sit and talk of her younger years, she interested me in finding out about her family…which led to a passion for genealogy. In doing this genealogy research I discovered a beauty in the worlds I uncovered as I looked at Civil War documents, pictures of estates in England, lilting names of Irish counties….my ancestors. They had inhabited the world I wanted to write about…they were pioneers and root doctors and knights and soldiers. They brought my desire to write back to life, and I took a long, hard look at my future. The two kids would soon be in college, my interests had always been my family and my kids…and I was swiftly heading to that empty nest syndrome. I’d taken care of my children and had been a caregiver to my parents and to my husband as they fought dire illnesses. My oldest sister had also passed away after a year-long fight with advanced lung cancer. In essence, there was absolutely nothing holding me back any more……..but me.
I now am following my dream. I am writing. Not only have I begun to pursue writing seriously, I’ve been encouraged by editors who’d liked my pitches and by other authors I’ve met online and at writing conferences. My one piece of advice to anyone out there who wants to pursue their passion is simply this…don’t wait. If only my parents and my sister could see my now…
There is an old saying: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” A very good piece of advice, I wish I’d taken it myself back then,