My grandma was a writer. As a little girl, not even in kindergarten yet, she looked at books with fascination. It was like magic, how the strange little characters, strung together, made stories. She couldn’t wait to learn how to make her own letters and words so she could create her own stories.
Years later, in high school, she edited and wrote humor articles for the school newspaper, and won several contests for her stories.
A couple years ago I became curious about how much she’d written. She’d never put out a book, but she’d had many stories and articles published in newspapers and children’s magazines, and regularly sent stories in letters to the family. So I started compiling them. I’m up to almost 90,000 words, and have only gone through about half of her stuff. I also came to discover that probably 75% of her writing was autobiographical.
And what a legacy she’s left! I’m touched by the beauty and joy she saw in life, even when times got tough. She got married right at the beginning of the great depression, and listening to her stories of living in the most challenging conditions is both humbling and inspiring.
Of writing, she once said,
“How I wish I had started earlier. That is my one regret. I was busy, but I could have made a little more time.”
I’m not sure even she knew how much she wrote.
She would have loved the Internet. A place to share writings with her entire family and the rest of the world as often as she wanted? Wow! And the ability to put the work in print herself? Wow!
Occasionally she would say that she felt like someone was feeding her the words. Like someone was whispering what to write. Essentially, I think she felt like she had a muse. But her description wasn’t about some “writing fairy,” but rather of loved ones who had passed. Her father was a writer, and in my own research, I discovered that several of her ancestors were writers. Maybe one of them was her muse.
If so, I think she’s my muse.
She once wrote in her journal,
“I always wished I’d had a child that wanted to write. Some of them did a little mostly to please me I think, but none of them had ‘the bug.’ There is a difference.
“If you get it, don’t ever give it up. Let it rest sometimes, like I have, but always have it there, like a treasure you can go to, so you can say, ‘this is my own special thing. No one can ever take it from me.’ It’s always there, maybe dormant, but ready to come to life.”
I won’t let you down, Grandma. I love you!