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Late to the Game?

Growing up, I was the kid who did what they were supposed to do. Ok, I didn’t always do my homework … and my room wasn’t always perfectly clean. But, looking back through glasses tinged with present knowledge, I’m pretty sure I would have been diagnosed with ADHD, without the H, very much like My Moon was. I was a space cadet. I “lost time,” and got sucked into my own mind on many an occasion when teachers were giving instructions, explaining, or requesting homework…

I remember one occasion vividly, in Mrs. Cain’s math class in middle school. I don’t remember the origins of the book I had on hand. Perhaps I had a reading class before math. What I do remember is being fully immersed in reading said book (still trying to figure out what it was … so if it brings anything to mind, PLEASE comment with a title). And, when I say immersed, I mean that anything and everything outside of those pages had ceased to exist. Gone.

That main character was perched upon a carousel horse, determined to grab the golden ring taunting her (I think it was a girl, but it could have been a boy). She had just reached up to grab it … to discover that it was actually irremovably ATTACHED to the canopy … when a sharp, young elbow pushed deep against the flesh just below my ribcage.

Ouch, was my first thought, as my mind worked its way off the back of the fictional carousel horse, and out of the fictional park. Back to the real world, one I immediately regretted reentering. (Note: my regret was not about having left it in the first place).

Mrs. Cain was yelling, nay screaming at me in the real world. Screaming at me because I was not paying attention to her, but to the book tucked snugly in my lap. Mrs. Cain, the teacher who actually made children stick gum on the ends of their noses if caught chewing in school. Terrifying Mrs. Cain.

Do I remember the punishment? No. But, I still remember the passage of the book. This was my relationship with reading. The one that inspired a passion for writing.

Now, I sit here on the precipice of having my first horror novel, SEWER DOGS, published. I wrote it, I sent it out, Wicked House Publishing signed it. WOW. I have A Foot in the Door! And, I just signed my first anthology contract, successfully finding a home for one of my favorite novellas I have written so far. And, I finished my second novel and have it out for consideration. And, I am working on a collaborative novel with a truly inspiring friend. And, starting the sequel to my first novel.

And, and, and… I cannot shake the horrible, gnawing feeling that I am late to the game. You see, I am 53. I have loved reading and writing since I was a child. I have notebooks full of scribblings to prove it. But, somewhere along the way of doing all the things I was supposed to do, I put off this thing that I really wanted to do.

Let me be clear, down to the deepest regions of my heart and soul, I do not regret the things I did in the meantime. And, my rational brain knows that this was the right time for me. I kind of think if it like making the perfect salad. The years I spent planting vegetables and tending to them so they could grow in the most perfect way, is just as important as preparing the salad itself. And, isn’t it more satisfying that way, too?

Each time the little self-doubt demon living rent free in my head (I would be a billionaire if the little bugger ever paid up), pokes at me and taunts me with visions of what I could have had and done, if I had started earlier, taken different courses, gone for it when I was younger, I take her by her little spiky shoulders and sit her down to explain.

I never completely stopped doing this thing I love, even if I wasn’t publishing short stories, novellas, and novels along the way. There was that article I wrote for the high school paper (that nobody knew I wrote). The story I wrote and shared with the closest of friends about a band trip gone wrong. The funny short story they put into Parent magazine when My Moon was a toddler. The stories and book that I wrote for Little Man when he was still little and having trouble with reading (I have promised to polish the book and get it published in the future). These things might not be “out there,” but they are just as important.

And, every moment of life I have lived and filled with experiences, joys, traumas, in the meantime, has become a part of my salad.

A chance re-connection with a beautiful soul and talented writer (L. E. Daniels – if you haven’t read her stuff you are missing out!) with whom I had the pleasure of hanging out in grade school, brought me back around and re-ignited my passion for writing. And, what a wonderful time to have that happen.

Not late to the game, but at the perfect time when I can share and collaborate with my grown kids, all three creative. A time when I can dream of having My Moon, award winning short film writer/director/editor Alessia Devecchi, turn my work into something beyond what I could have imagined in the future. A time when My Moon and My Sun can turn my words into beautiful drawings. A time when LM can tell me what he thinks about things I write.

I may be late to the game by society’s standards. But, THIS IS MY GAME. It’s a game that starts when I say it does. And, for that, I am right on time.

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