Monday, August 5, 2013

My Mormon Mommy Writer

This week I'd like to welcome another Mormon Mommy Writer as a guest poster, as I am on vacation with my family. This Mormon Mommy Writer happens to be MY mommy, Lee Hinkle, so I hope you will all give her a very warm welcome! 

Mom and I got the writing bug together a few years ago (both rediscovering it from younger days) and we have been encouraging and supporting each other ever since. They say you shouldn't just let your mom critique your work, but I know that I would be missing a great opportunity if I didn't let my mom critique my work! She is one talented lady and she constantly inspires me to reach higher. She has a Ph.D., breeds thoroughbred racehorses, and has lived quite an adventurous life. She currently lives in northern Virginia on a beautiful farm where she cares for five horses, one dog, one cat, my stepfather, and my sister (often in that order). 

My mom and her gorgeous pal Diamond, who passed away earlier this year. 

by Lee Hinkle

It was September, 1990, and I’d just returned home from dropping off my youngest child for her very first day of kindergarten – a sad, but also joyful time for us both. I pulled up to my house, got out of the car, walked to the front door, unlocked it and stepped inside. What was that strange sound? Could it be . . . ? Yes, it was! Like a long lost friend, the sweet sound of Silence enveloped me. Wow, I thought, it really has been a long time. I took a deep breath of the quiet, childless air inside my home, did a little dance – a guilty celebration because I loved all my children deeply and dearly. But, right then I did feel a little like I was going on vacation for a few hours.

Fast forward about eighteen years. By then, the crazy, exciting, frustrating, stressful, joyful time of child-rearing was behind me, and my old friend Silence had returned to the halls of my home. But, as much as I appreciated Silence’s presence during the daytime hours, I still looked forward to the people noises that bounced around our home every evening.  During the day I took advantage of my friend Silence to read, ponder and pray for guidance, and slowly realized that the time and season for developing my talents had finally arrived.

Over the next few years, I tried hard to focus on rediscovering my youthful passions. My horses, of course, were my primary passion nowadays. But, where were those other passions of my early years, I wondered. Could they be they hiding somewhere, or did they all finally leave, weary of waiting for my attentions?

By the time another year had passed, I began believing that my horse passion might be the only one left in my soul, and it made me a little sad. A person should have more than just one thing that causes them to lose their sense of space and time, shouldn’t they? Then, late one afternoon, as I unpacked some boxes that had remained sealed through at least five or six moves, I discovered several tattered loose-leaf folders of various colors. The folders looked extremely familiar to me. I saw that each one was filled with numerous white pages. As I reached for them, I suddenly remembered vividly many hot California summer afternoons of alternately jumping into our backyard swimming pool, then hurrying back inside to pound out horse stories from my heart, using my mother’s sleek black Remington typewriter.

Sandwiched between the covers and backs of those (almost) ancient folders lay my stories, born of my Passion to write, and filled with all the joy and angst that my ten, eleven and twelve-year-old self could possibly express on paper. As I picked up and opened each folder, thumbing through the fifty-year-old pages, I felt an old, familiar thrill course through me. That thrill was immediately followed by the surge of a long-buried Passion -- another of my old friends. And I knew I had to write again.

Excitement raced through every part of me. I promptly began exploring different thoughts, things, people, and places I might write about. A few ideas surfaced, and after several days, or maybe it was even as long a week or more, I sat down at my computer and began to write -- my first effort at writing creatively in forty-five or fifty years. I’d written a Master’s thesis, a Doctoral dissertation, and numerous academic articles for various journals and conferences. But none of those works had demanded the kind of creativity that I was reaching for now.

As I struggled along my precarious and challenging journey, searching for that misplaced creative piece of me, I came to realize that I probably had a long and rocky road ahead of me. I would need to relearn long-lost creative writing skills. I would also have to seriously freshen up my brain cells. And, by the time this whole rediscover-my-Passion thing started up again, academese – that unique and objective fact-based style of writing that researchers use to report data and statistics and to describe their conclusions to their peers -- was firmly entrenched in my writing style. That had to change. So, on top of everything else, I had to relearn real-speak. But, I didn’t care. I would do what I needed to do. I knew deep down in my bones I was up to the challenge. I was ready – and I had the rest of my life to learn and create. My compass was set, and I was on my way. It was thrilling.

Looking back over the last two years, I think that the first year was pretty much devoted to writing and re-writing the same few chapters over and over, as I slowly rediscovered and relearned how the whole creative process worked. Fortunately for me, both of my daughters are also writers, so I had (and have) a wonderful support network to help me along. In fact, my whole family supported me in this last-third-of-my-life effort to rediscover my creative abilities and restore my lost skills.

When the show Pan Am made its TV debut two years ago, it was my family who strongly encouraged me to write my Pan Am memoirs. I’d been a stewardess with Pan Am during the late sixties and early seventies; and that history and those memories offered a wealth of useful and, I thought, entertaining material to draw from for my first real writing effort. I was excited to have an actual writing project at last!

When I began writing those memoirs, sometime in late September 2011, I figured I would be done in a few weeks – a month tops. But, I was -- and still am -- astounded that it took me nearly two years to craft what evolved into an 82,000 plus-word manuscript.

Back when my quest began, I never would have believed how hard it would be to get back into the groove that eventually tapped into my creative self. Early on in the process, I secretly feared that my poor creative self might have perished somewhere along the way. So, ¬¬¬I read everything I could find about how to write creatively. I borrowed my youngest daughter’s creative writing college textbook that explained techniques for properly crafting a story. I joined a writers’ group. I even attended a writers’ workshop with my oldest daughter. I focused on my new goal, and just kept at it. And now I confidently can say that I am on my way back -- I even have a bona fide manuscript to show for my efforts so far.

I have no idea if I’ll ever produce the great -- or even a good -- American novel.  Maybe I won’t. But, I will certainly try. And in the meantime, I have to say that I feel so blessed to have been given such a wonderful gift – the Passion to write.

Any other older MMWs just now rediscovering their Passion? Leave a comment and share!

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I have a toddler and one on the way and there are things that I just don't have time for, especially during the semesters that I teach part time. This gives me hope that the interests and talents I just can't give sufficient energy to now may still be there when my schedule lightens. Great job finishing your manuscript! Good luck!



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