This week I welcome romance writer Thelma Zirkelbach and her guest blog; the story of how she and writing finally found each other...
A Writer's Meandering Path
When I was four, I composed a poem that went like this:
Happy as a chicken,
Happy as a pig,
Happy as a rabbit
That danced a little jig.
I announced that when I grew up, I would be a writer. My parents showered me with praise but they never believed for a minute I would become anything but a wife and mother. In my day, that was the only option open for a girl. However, I did intend to become a writer…someday.
Did I scribble poems in the margins of my school tablets? No. Did I pen stories after the rest of the family went to bed? No. I did win third place in an essay contest about Texas statehood when I was in fifth grade, but that was the extent of my writing life until I was grown and had become the housewife I was destined to be.
One day in a bookstore I discovered a book called Someday You’ll Write. I bought it, read it and put it aside for “someday.”
Days came and went, and I occasionally gave writing a nod, to no avail. I was busy with babies, organization work, cooking, bridge games, carpools. Then I got a divorce, went back to school for a Master’s, went to work, remarried, opened a private practice in speech pathology and became busier than ever. “Someday” was a long way off.
After a few years I began traveling back and forth to Austin to visit my father, whose health was failing. Because I don’t drive on the highway—I fall asleep the minute the car leaves the city limits—I took the bus. Nothing is more boring than a four-hour bus ride; I needed reading material. One day as I walked through the book department of a discount store, I noticed a little book, a romance. I’d never read one. I was a literary snob. After all, someday I was going to write the Great American Novel. But this book was just the right length to get me to Austin and back, so I bought it, read it, and was hooked. Every time I went to Austin, I read a romance, and soon I was reading them between trips as well. The light dawned. I would become a romance novelist. “Someday” had come.
I joined Romance Writers of America, began attending workshops and conferences and entered RWA’s national contest for unpublished writers, where I finaled in two categories. I sold my first book, Blessing in Disguise, written as Lorna Michaels, to Harlequin Superromance and eventually wrote twelve other romance novels.
The death of my husband five years ago propelled me from romance to creative non-fiction. I’ve written a memoir, Stumbling Through the Dark, about our last year together. So far it’s unpublished, but someday…
I’ve also written essays for several anthologies and for the past year I’ve become a dedicated blogger. I hope you’ll visit me at www.widowsphere.blogspot.com where I ponder widowhood, review books of interest to widows and sometimes just books of interest. A couple of weeks ago I review Room, a fascinating new novel that was short-listed for the Booker Prize. I also post a quote for the week each Tuesday.
Why do I write? I answered in a six-word memoir posted at She Writes: Live to write; write to live.