Unlike other writers who know at an early age they want to write books, the desire to tell a story occurred in my early thirties. An ad for a children’s correspondence writing course caught my eye. I checked out the reputation of the company and decided to commit to the program. My husband encouraged me, and promised to help with more household chores and the care of our son since I also worked full-time. I completed the requirements, which included writing exercises and two short stories. I gained a sense of what it’s like to write but realized my heart was in adult literature.
Time went by and my father, at age seventy-nine, began to write a memoir by hand. It covered his life from age thirteen to nineteen. He and his dad were hunters and trappers in the panhandle of Oklahoma and northeastern New Mexico, and made their living that way. With the help of his oldest granddaughter, he self-published his book, On the Banks of the Cimarron. As I read, I could smell the coffee he perked over a campfire and my mouth watered over the pinto beans he cooked while out on the trail with his horse. He shipped his furs to a company in St. Louis.
The small town of Kenton, Oklahoma, arranged a book signing/barbecue for him over Memorial Day weekend. One couple drove a hundred miles to get their copy of his book. People of the region loved his homey stories, which brought back memories for the older generation.
My husband and I took my parents to this event and I have to say I was proud of him. Due to family circumstances he had not even completed middle school, let alone attended writers’ conferences, read books on writing, and all that we writers do to learn the craft. I entered his book in a Writers’ Digest contest for self-published books. He didn’t win, but received a couple of comments from them about improvements. They graded his book and gave him ninety-three per cent. I thought, if he can sit down and write a book, why can’t I?