by June Shaw
“Authors are old dead men from Europe, and everyone has to struggle to figure out what they meant.” That’s what I believed teachers told us about writers. I couldn’t relate.
My beliefs changed in ninth grade when I my English teacher was sending me to a literary rally. I’d have to take a test in English and should practice writing a paragraph. He told me to write about a splinter. Good grief. How dull. I described a sliver of wood and carried it to his desk. “This is boring,” he said. “Yes, but you told me to do it.” And then he wrote “Ouch!” He said to write from the splinter’s point of view. Someone just sat on it.
I was so excited to realize a writer could do that. Writers could create people and things and make them say or do anything? That splinter inspired me. “Ouch!” was my only creative writing instruction. It introduced me to modern humor and made me know one day I’d be an author. I did place first in that contest.
I was active in school, married young, had five children in six years, and became widowed when the oldest was eleven. I needed to work and would have wanted to write but didn’t know how to start. I needed an income soon.
Quickly completing my college courses, I taught junior high students and eventually found a little time to write. I wrote short pieces and eventually sold essays and poems. Over time, while trying to keep up with my growing children’s activities and the paperwork for 150 or more students a day, I learned to write plays. My one-act play won a contest in Boston. A screenplay I wrote was aired on a channel for the arts in New Orleans. Producers suggested that since I wouldn’t move away from my family in the South, I should try writing novels.
Like those old dead men?
With my extra-busy life, I’d read few novels but started to read more to try to discover a genre I liked best. I found I loved Janet Evanovitch and worked on books, struggling to emulate her style.
When I sold a novel, I had taken my aging mother in to live with me. My children had given me grandchildren. After that I sold the second book in the series. It’s been published, and next year the third book comes out.
So do I believe you give up on a dream? It may take half a lifetime to find time to achieve, but I know persistence pays off, along with hanging a hook on the edge of your goal until it comes true.
June Shaw’s humorous mystery series features feisty widowed Cealie Gunther and her Cajun restaurateur hunk Gil Thurman whom she “thinks” she wants to avoid so she can rediscover herself. But he opens restaurants wherever she travels, and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men. See more at www.juneshaw.com.