Why I Write, Part II

OliveTreesRain“The rain was beating down hard, hitting the awnings over the kitchen windows. The leaves of our old magnolia tree were drenched and wilting. I wished I could afford a place of my own. My parents had been kind enough to let me stay with them until I save enough money to buy something, but I was beginning to feel anxious. But this I knew for sure—that my house would be just as cozy as my parents, and in the backyard there would be a sprawling mimosa tree like the one in Michael Contelli’s backyard.” ~ From my short story entitled, Contelli’s Mimosa. 1992.

This is how the short story I wrote, “Contelli’s Mimosa,” ended. Twenty-some years later, it became a novel. My first. But we’ll get into that more in Part III.

One such edition of Orioles Magazine.
One such edition of Orioles Magazine.

Twenty-one years ago, I graduated from my first master’s program with a degree in Professional Writing from Towson University. It was a great program for me, and I focused primarily on public relations writing. I’d begun my professional career at The Baltimore Orioles, working in public relations, community relations, and publications. During this time, I was the editor of Orioles Magazine, and we put together Cal Ripken Jr.’s commemorative publication when he broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak. Those were exciting times in baseball, and I was fortunate enough to work there. I primarily wrote and edited nonfiction work—magazine articles that suited the ballclub’s publication.

I did, however, dabble on the side with fiction, though I did nothing with it.

Years later, when I had children and was primarily a stay-at-home-mom working part-time as an adjunct faculty member, I wrote a little on the side, as well. A little poetry and short stories were concocted when I had time, but my number one focus were my children.

When I went back to school in 2009 as I worked toward an MFA degree in creative writing at National University, I jumped in with both feet. My children were older, and I was working as a full-time faculty member at Stevenson University outside Baltimore. The fact that I could totally submerge myself in writing was therapeutic for me, and although I was working full-time, I enjoyed the stimulation of my online writing program. I highly recommend this type of program for writers who can work autonomously and are driven by deadlines and open to constructive feedback. It motivated me, and made me want to become a better writer.

One such outcome of my program was this poem I wrote about Queen Anne Boleyn and her beheading that was ordered by her husband, Henry VIII. It’s one of my favorites because I tried to image how she felt as she was about to be executed and wrote it from her perspective…

Anne’s Threnody

I feel the bareness, my little neck,
As I sit in wait, haunted Tower—
Despite my fate, I’m not a wreck
As I wait upon my hour.

Your Grace, the King
Of Thee, I sing!

I shall not contest for fear that she
Will be punished for her name alone;
Pray goodness will guide her destiny—
She, a blessing for the throne.

Your Grace, the King
Of Thee, I sing!

A Calais swordsman, honorable chore!
I shall pardon him with my eyes—
No longer a Queen, but witch and whore,
Pray I’m deaf to my child’s cries.

Your Grace, the King
Of Thee, I sing!

The Boleyn name tainted, dear brother George,
Ill-justice—vile and unnerving;
Vast suffering, torment and wanton scourge—
So unmercifully undeserving.

Your Grace, the King
Of Thee, I sing!

Death is upon me; I shall take my leave
From this earth, from sovereignty—
Meddle my cause* so that some may believe
It was his impropriety.

Your Grace, the King
Of Thee, I sing!

(Note: It is believed that Anne Boleyn, in her speech at her execution, did say, “And if any person will meddle my cause, I require them to judge the best.” (http://tudorhistory.org/primary/speech)).

During this time, I realized even more so than before, that I needed to write, and I reconciled myself with this eye-opening notion: it didn’t matter if I became rich and famous from writing, because writing is what I enjoy doing. And when you enjoy doing something, it’s really quite a sin not to do it.


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