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Longing to Write
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
May 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
May 2018

This article was provided by B.E. Beck, author of Who Are You, Trudy Herman? In this piece she reminisces about her lifelong pursuit of writing leading to her published work. 

“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” W.B. Yeats

I don’t remember learning to read, but I do remember sitting in a corner of the kitchen reading short stories in the Grit, a weekly newspaper that reached the Appalachian hills of Eastern Kentucky. I longed to create stories like the ones I read. Eventually, pencil in hand, I began to write.

I wrote about Granddad’s funny walk, our cat, Homer, chasing mice in the barn, and the spicy taste of squirrel stew. Each day, the last thing I did before leaving the one-room schoolhouse was to sharpen the one pencil I owned, and each night, I wrote until the lead no longer marked the paper.

Due to family circumstances, I was put on a bus at age thirteen, along with a brown suitcase, and sent west. All my stories were left behind. The bus traveled day and night, from the hills of Appalachia to a sandy beach in California, a foreign country to a girl from the holler.

There was so much to write about along the way–the landscape, the smells, the food, the tall buildings, the people who spoke differently, wide four-lane highways with white lines down the center, lights hanging in the middle of intersections, and, finally, the Pacific Ocean. Yes indeed, so much to tell–to write. Yet, I didn’t have my pencil and was unable to capture what I saw and felt so I closed my eyes hoping to commit every detail to memory.

The relatives I lived with were gentle, realizing my need to remember my past, to record it, and as long as I completed my chores and finished my homework, I was allowed to write. Can you imagine the new experiences I now had to chronicle–from Appalachia to the Pacific Ocean, from a small schoolhouse to a large open campus that housed several buildings like a small city.

I loved my English teacher. She encouraged me to write, was always willing to read my journals, and offered help whenever needed. A couple of months after I arrived, she had to leave, replaced by a loud, angry teacher who criticized my dress, my writing, my speech, and my schoolwork. Thus, I took solace in being selected as one of the top math students in my class.

Shortly after that, I was sent to live with another relative in a Southwest state and for the second time, my writing–the words and experiences I’d discovered on the West Coast–were not allowed to accompany me.  

At my new home, I attended high school, worked in a small café, and studied rigorously while attending college classes. After I received my degree, followed by a graduate degree, I became a math instructor, a world traveler, and a mother.

My desire to write rekindled after moving to Seattle, a city of readers. Now my words, this time captured by a keyboard, once again fill the page with stories. The release date for my first novel is May 8, 2018.

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