Finding My Way Back to a First Love
By Jen Parks, Bluegrass Writers Studio
My husband didn’t marry a writer. He didn’t even marry a reader. He married an almost-graduate nurse anesthetist and a wannabe mother. So when I asked my always-been-a-reader husband, nearly six years after our wedding date, “When you finish reading a book, do you ever want to, um, write one?” I got a “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?” look.
I know why I got the look, though. During the two years my husband dated me, I was in graduate school and had read exactly two books for enjoyment. In my defense, the seventy to eighty hours a week I spent in clinical rotations or studying didn’t afford me much time to “read for fun.”
But what my husband didn’t know, and what I had nearly forgotten myself, was that deep in a closet of memories, tucked lovingly away in a box covered with dust, was a childhood spent reading, penning poetry, and writing plays for my unlucky classmates to perform. Though I never walked completely away from it as an adult, writing the occasional poem in my journal, or reading when I could, writing was something that I’d never considered beyond the sporadic and private outlet it had become.
When a new job – that gave me more free time – happened to coincide with my children going off to school, I began to read in earnest again. But this time, strange things occurred: I started narrating stories and writing paragraphs in my head. When I had asked my husband that question and got the look, I had wondered if I was indeed going crazy. Maybe I was suffering from some sleep-deprived, working-mother delirium or psychosis. I later learned, after perusing writer’s blogs and reading some books on the craft, that I wasn’t crazy; I was doing what some call “listening to their muse.”
For some, making the leap from writing for fun to being compelled to apply to an MFA program to learn everything you can about the craft is just too big. And I’ll admit, I had my doubts. I thought that my background in nursing would preclude me from being accepted, but when Dr. Nikitas told me that there were others in the program with nursing degrees, it gave me a glimmer of hope.
What I have learned since starting the MFA program last fall was that I wasn’t alone. Many of my classmates and I shared the same meandering path back to our love of writing. Some have even enjoyed entire careers in something other than creative writing, but like me, they are now listening to the voice that all but demands them to pick up a pen and get out of their head that lingering story or poem.
Except for my mother – who oddly enough, had always wanted me to be a writer – it took some time to convince others that the “new” me was really the “old” me. Though I took my time, I am glad I’m here.
Published on March 24, 2014