All My Life’s a Circle – I grew up in the world of books. Like Lis, the main protagonist in my novel, The Call, my family was not exactly what it seemed. But every Friday evening brought a trip to the Library and books were magic. I would get lost in them. The world around me receded as I was transported by the Brothers Grimm, or caught in the web of other Fairy Tales and Folklore.
Mr. Lee, my Seventh Grade English teacher kept a library corner with a comfy chair. If you finished your work, books were the reward for a job well done. There I read Little Women and found a connection to Jo March, who also felt out of sync with her family and her world, more connected to the worlds she entered in books and through her writing. I loved her independence and courage. Since my name carried a common root with hers, I chose Jo for a nickname. It felt like a promise.
Then in college, where I studied English, wrote poetry, read J.R.R. Tolkien, and planned a Journalism career, I met Doug, my own ‘Aragorn.’ Probably one of the most important things we shared was the belief that we were alive for a reason. We wanted our lives to have meaning and we wanted to leave the world a better place because we had been in it. So, Doug went to seminary, and for a while, my life took a u-turn into marriage and teaching English, and then being home with children.
When I re-entered the wider world, I wanted to find that way to live what my book describes as “a call to higher purpose.” I got a Masters in Social Work from Syracuse University, managed a large Family Service Division with multiple services and had a small part-time therapy practice. My creativity was directed toward developing programs and services to reach people others thought little of, the homeless, battered women, foster children, struggling parents, the mentally ill, juvenile delinquents. Overall people have been my passion.
Writing then was grants to get program budgets, or money for a building, or for VISTA volunteers. There is nothing like the carrot/stick of funds received or not to quickly improve writing, especially when others’ lives and jobs are on the line.
But just like Lis, The Call’s main character (modeled on Caroline, my oldest grand daughter with a bit of me mixed in), at the back of my mind, I still kept hearing a different call. Then my kids finished school and moved to North Carolina, and time suddenly was available just for me. I began seeking more knowledge about my family history, and by implication, myself. That took me to researching Poland and resurrected the idea of writing. Finally, everything came full circle. I began the Prologue and the First Chapter and The Call began to live as an epic fantasy with folklore elements set in 1446 Poland. Unknown to Lis, she is one of the Hidden and she is about to be caught up in the political struggle over who will become king…but more about that on the page on The Call.
Family is the center of me and that has brought me to North Carolina. Here, I have worked in public health and at a community college. Here, I finished my book, joined a writer’s group, and was told to be a writer you need a social platform. So that is this blog, and if my book is ever published, someone may read this. Or perhaps you will happen upon this blog from some other direction. However you get here, you are welcome!
My blog is like me, full of many interests, struggling with life. I am an optimist who has had the blessings of a diverse life experience. I am many things, open to all kinds of hopes and possibilities. I am a person of faith. I believe we all have a purpose and are happiest when we find it.
So, if you harbor an interest in writing and that’s why you’re here I hope my struggles with and, hopefully, learning about writing will be useful to you. Here for a different reason? I hope reading my blog will touch you in some way. Broader than that, I hope in between the lines I share on lessons gleaned from my experiences will be insights for you and for me on life in general. And if life is pulling you toward something, even if you are struggling to find what it is, especially if it’s in a different direction from what you are currently doing, my wish for you is that your path leads you to find and fulfill your call. Jo