by Valarie Kinney
It had been so long since I’d written anything, I’d forgotten the pleasure I had once found in putting my thoughts down on paper.
My life was full and busy, as that of a wife and mother is bound to be. Days were full of running various children to guitar lessons, sports practices, and Scouts meetings. Added to this was the average every day responsibilities: housework, cooking, helping with homework, doctor’s appointments.
I went back to college in my mid-thirties, with a goal of finishing my Associates before my eldest child graduated high school. It never occurred to me how much this one decision would impact my life.
One of my first classes was English 101, and I was writing my first assignment when it struck me, like I’d slipped a puzzle piece into a space in my soul that I hadn’t even realized was empty.
The complete, utter joy I experienced that day, finding just the right word, moving sentences around on the page, felt like such a natural extension of myself that it startled me.
How could I have ever forgotten?
I’d been so busy with everyday life I had lost the one thing that had always made my soul sing.
Suddenly, I was so filled with words I couldn’t sleep at night. All day long, words arranged and rearranged themselves in my brain, rhyming, chanting, marching. I scribbled bits of poetry on napkins or the backs of receipts. And then one night, an idea for a story showed up in my head, with scenes in my mind so clear I could not refrain from getting out of bed at two AM to start writing them down in a spiral notebook.
Those late night scribblings turned into my first book manuscript. I revised and edited and tweaked that manuscript. I held it so close to my heart. I could just imagine what I would write on the dedication page when it finally became a real book. I imagined my mother’s face when I put my book in her hands.
As much as I loved it, I let that manuscript sit idle on my lime green flash drive for a long time.
Why? I don’t know.
I’d lost so much writing time already, and then I found my passion again and was afraid to share it with the world.
In July of 2013, we brought my sister home on Hospice. She was forty-nine.
I sat next to her often, holding her hand and thinking of all the plans she’d once had, all the things she’d wanted to do in that mythical land of Later, when the kids were grown and life had settled down.
And then one night she died, before Later had a chance to arrive.
It struck me then that Later is never guaranteed. I’d known that before, of course, but it was another thing I had forgotten in the hustle of the every day.
So I found an editor and I had a cover designed, and nine months after my sister’s death, I published my first novel.
Since then, I’ve published two more books and been invited into a few anthologies. I’ve got a day job as a content writer, and I often have articles published on various websites.
It’s easy in the rush of life to get lost in responsibilities we have to others.
It’s important to remember the responsibilities we have to ourselves.
Another ten years is never a promise, and I’m the only person responsible for living my passion, my art.
I am a writer, and I’ll never allow myself to forget it again.
Valarie Kinney is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction. She resides in Michigan with her husband, four children, and two insane little dogs. She is the author of Heckled, Slither and Just Hold On, as well as the short stories Copper and Ailith in the KAPOW! anthologies by 7DS Books. Narrator for Dragons of Faith.