I’ve known I was destined to write even before I learned to read. I remember cuddling with my dad on the high-backed couch in our living room, feeling safe and loved, while he read aloud a library book about Osceola. The brave Seminole Indian chief fought the brutal attempts by the U.S. government to remove his people from Florida during the early 1800’s.
When my dad finished the book, I said sadly, “It’s all gone.”
“It’s not gone,” he told me, laying the book in my hands. “We can turn it around and start over at the beginning. Not tonight, though.”
From that moment on, when I discovered that words could be written down in books, captured and stored to be enjoyed over and over again, I knew I wanted to write stories of my own. Many times in school, when I was supposed to be solving math problems or studying spelling words, I’d be busy composing poetry or creating title pages and back cover descriptions for books I dreamed of one day publishing. My first poem was printed in “Jack and Jill”—a popular magazine for kids—when I was eleven years old—and after that, I caught an incurable case of author fever.
My novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness”, began as a short story assignment for a high school English class. I got an A on the assignment and fell in love with the scrappy, loyal, smart-mouthed teenagers who came to life in my imagination.
I never forgot those characters. In my twenties, in order to learn how to use a word processor, I dragged out that old short story and typed it into my first computer—a DOS machine with 5-inch floppy disks and no Internet. The writing needed a lot of work, but the characters still captivated me. I added to the story, changed and deleted weak parts and moved paragraphs and chapters around. I picked the project up and put it down many times over the next twenty-some years as life happened. I took advice and editing from countless people. I attended writing workshops and joined critique groups to hone my craft, and I never gave up on my dream. In June of 2015, I finally published my book.
In junior high, I interviewed a local author as part of an independent study project. Her advice has stuck with me for 35 years.
“When you write, think of yourself as a bird building a nest,” she said. “Your life gives you the materials for your stories. You take a twig from here, a tuft of grass from there, a bit of string from somewhere else. Keep living a life full of experiences so you never run out of building materials.”
I usually write fiction, so my characters and what happens to them is all made up. But some of the experiences and a whole lot of the underlying emotions come from what I know, what I’ve lived through, like that bird making a nest.
As a writer, I realize the importance of entertaining my readers while giving them something to think about. I want to empower my readers so they will know the deeds of one person can make a difference in the world. Drawing inspiration from my own experiences, I try to show everyday people that hope is always just an action away.
I wish writing full-time would pay my bills, but that’s not my reality yet. So till my novel hits the bestseller list, I freelance from home as a textbook proofreader. I’m also the mom of an eleven-year-old daughter–the greatest job ever!
“The Bright Side of Darkness” is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
The paperback version of my novel is available at Barnes & Noble here:
Please see my author page on Facebook here:
Please see my author blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” on Goodreads here:
To read guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:
To read guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:
Lovely to meet Jo, Kevin. Imagine having a book idea for so many years. I loved the metaphor of the birds nest.
Thank you, Robbie. I was delighted to host Jo here on kmorrispoet.com and I’m pleased you enjoyed her guest post. Best wishes – Kevin
Thanks. I loved the metaphor, too. I think it stuck with me for so long because of it’s vividness–I wonder if vividness is a word–vividity–anyway, because it was so vivid. 🙂
Thanks for the opportunity to be on your site, Kevin. I’ve read through some of your poems and enjoyed them. I started out writing poetry originally and loved it but was told by a professional not to quit my day job.
Many thanks for your comments, Jo. I was delighted to host you and wish you the very best of luck with your writing. I’m pleased you enjoy reading my poetry, and I was interested to learn that you started out by writing poetry. As regards quitting the day job, I think that very few poets could afford to do so! Best wishes – Kevin
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No. What I mean is, she was pretty unimpressed with my poetry.