A writer writes. As a reader and a writer, words sieved through my consciousness. As a little girl I could not walk three blocks to the grocery store without making up a story which my poor mother had to listen to when I got home.
When I arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for graduate school in 1967, a stipend of perhaps $250 per month seemed to me untold riches. Almost immediately I went out and bought an Olympia typewriter which I enshrined on a tiny desk. I knew that I wanted to write, but I was not yet 22 and I said firmly to myself, “You are not going to write anything until you are 40. Right now you need to live.” Which is pretty much what I proceeded to do.
Years of work in administration followed. Administrative work was perfect, mostly form, a tea ceremony which I enjoyed. It was a time of increased automation in offices, another aspect of form. I helped, moving from the use of one digital media to another, learning to do “word processing,” develop databases and spreadsheets. I filled in the form, did what was needed, saving my free time to sort out content for myself. I remember a database programmer telling us once that language was a linear string. “Oh, no,” I said to myself. “Language is a deep well, each word an action and able to trigger unknown depths.”
Cultural change was all around us. I was part of it, but also removed. I let it flow through me. I refused to get jobs in which I would have to write for money, except for some minor policy or technical writing. I was afraid such writing would take over. I saved my words so they could finally, in the end, be used only for my own thoughts and feelings.
In this quest of authenticity and integrity, I wanted to say only what I meant. But I did have to learn that things change. Words and selves are not eternal, but rather fluid, dynamic. They are bound to a time period. We make them up as we go along. At the same time, some core of ourselves and our words stands firm, is related to the ground of our being. The actions and words we utter become the selves that others see.
I probably was around 40 when I began to write my first novel, An Implicate Order. It is complete but kind of thin, has never been published. I wrote two more novels as well. Using iUniverse, years after they were written, I published these two novels which are theoretically available. (iUniverse has the content but I’ve been told that when people order a copy, it can’t be had.) Publishing them did help me see what could be done and, at least initially, people read them.
Which brings me to now and CreateSpace, a division of Amazon, which happily makes available anything a writer puts together and publishes. I even get to order an ISBN number under my own imprint, Lightly Held Books. The books can’t be sold in bookstores or put into libraries. But someday, if they get enough attention, they may be picked up by a more established publisher.
For now, it is enough that the work I am doing is available, that it sees the light of day. It comes from all those years of sitting with myself, as I think of the process now. It isn’t expression or writing in the sense of polishing sentences. It is bringing up to the light all the things I have thought over my life.
This morning I read a chapter from Fit Company for Oneself to my sister in England (on Skype). We’ve been reading this book together, though half a world away. In the chapter, we see Line at Wittenberg College, making of her education what she would. “Oh yes,” said Solveig. “You’ve gotten it down.” It is fiction to be sure, but it has in it what we experienced.