Saturday, June 20, 2015

This One's for You, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Thanks, dad, for believing in me.

In 1992, I had just finished 4th grade, and the world was my oyster. 4th grade was life-changing. I had found a stronger voice in my ten-year-old self.  I emerged from the 4th grade with a very strong "feminist" attitude, and I had a new passion for reading. Earlier that year I inherited a collection of vintage Nancy Drew books from my father.
They were his when he was my age. They came in a box mixed up with mostly Hardy Boys Mysteries, but I didn't keep those. I was only interested in about the strong female character catching bad guys.

I remember sitting in my front yard beneath the honey locust tree that summer, lost in the pages of my new mystery collection. It felt like magic. The world was quiet save for a warm breeze and the occasional cardinal. The garden walls seemed to enclose me. The dappled sunlight from the leaves of the honey locust would bounce across the pages. I blazed through all of my father's books that summer as there were just over a dozen. I had to check out other Nancy Drew books I did not yet own at the library. My need to read about the young, female detective was insatiable. I literally wanted to be her!

My collection of Nancy Drew books more than doubled during our family vacation that year. We drove south to Florida to visit my mother's parents at their retirement community. We also made a stop at Disney World. While we stayed with my grandparents, grandpa saw me reading a Nancy Drew book. So, he dug out my mother's old Nancy Drew collection, which was quite extensive, upwards of 20 books. I barely remember Disneyworld from that family vacation, but I vividly remember receiving these books.

The drive back from Florida to Illinois took the better part of two days to navigate. My dad drove most of the way home listening to the Andrews Sisters or the Beach Boys. My sister and I would amuse ourselves in the way back seat of the station wagon singing and making up dance moves to the songs.  At some point on this ride home, while I was reading one of my new books, dad asked me from the front seat, "You've read so many of those Nancy Drew Books that you must know the characters and plot lines pretty well. Have you ever considered writing your own Nancy Drew Book?" (Keep in mind, this was in the days before the concept of "fan fiction".)

I took his words to heart, and started writing as soon as we were home.

I worked on it the rest of the summer and on into the new school year. My teacher caught wind of what I was doing, and asked me if I wanted to type out a manuscript. She would send me to the computer lab during free times and study halls to work on my story. I think that's where I fell in love with writing. Just me alone at a computer. It took me quite a while to type it all out. (Remember, I was a fifth-grader. I would not take Keyboarding Class for another three years.)

After many months of typing, editing, and assembling the manuscript, I had it laminated and bound. I was going to attend the Illinois Young Authors Workshop at Illinois State University with my creation.

My passion for writing bubbled over all that year in fifth grade. With my father's encouragement and my bounding imagination, I developed myself as a budding author. With my writings, I attended two different young writer's conferences, as well as won the local Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest.

My father's words, taken seed, blossomed.

...and now I write Fun Dollars.

I love you dad. Happy Father's Day. Writing is just one of the many areas in life where I have received your words of love and encouragement. Thank you for being my dad, and for always believing in me.

Beets, red-leaf lettuce and pecans at the farmer's market- $9.00
Balance this pay cycle- $1.00
Happy Spending!

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