Learning Advice

Memories are funny things that seemingly leave for months, occasionally years, on end. Then, in just one triggered moment, they flood your mind, bringing back all thoughts, emotions, tears and laughter. And it gives you a sense of the road you’re walking and how far you’ve come – or not.

On Friday evening of Saturday June 9, 2001, I was pretty happy with myself. I had just completed renovating my home and had it up for sale with a promise of a contract date on the following Tuesday to sell it to a man who had just walked through the house and liked it enough to make an acceptable bid. I was more than halfway through my first “mainstream” and feeling really good about it. I’d read myself to sleep in my tall four poster king sized bed during a rainstorm and awakened the next morning with water two inches from the top of my bed.

I lost almost everything: on my first floor; office, living, dining, kitchen, bedroom and newly completed and organized office was four feet under water. My computer, all my diskettes and duplicate backup diskettes bubbled under the water still rushing in through doorways, walls and windows. Over thirty-three ring binders filled with bits and pieces of research, plot ideas, printed backups, diskettes with plotting twists etc, were also all under water. Almost all the plastic tubs of my own previously published books were also swimming with the fishes as was my two week old Avalon with its moon roof and tan leather interior Even my phone was under water.

Thank goodness my neighbor was the head of the Ponderosa Fire Fighters, and his men were in pontoon boats rescuing many others in our neighborhood. Their air horn let loose and I waved them down from my second floor window.

That day changed my life and plans I’d made for it.

Within two weeks, I had a full time job as an insurance adjuster for a State Farm Mold Team, to help add to what little flood insurance I’d had to rebuild. However, I learned it was better than some of my neighbors, who had none. And the long process of rebuilding began. It took two years to rebuild and then resell my home. It’s taken ten years to start writing again.

So here I am, relearning the writing process. The imagination muscle that I’d created by writing over 40 books had atrophied in the ten years I hadn’t used it. That surprised the heck out of me! I thought I’d be able to pick it up and run with a story. I knew all about stories. Heck, I’d helped write two books on how to write and one was used on the internet for classes for over five years! My mama, Rita Gallagher, was one of the top writing teachers in the country. The old adage applies to everyone’s brain: Use it or lose it.

I’m working on a manuscript now, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written and rewritten this story. I still have a rewrite or two to go before an editor gets a chance to buy it or turn it down. So Learn from my lessons. Don’t stop exercising…your body, your thoughts, your creativity. Your mind. Your writing skills. Keep them honed. Learn to tear apart and restructure others stories, your stories, your thoughts. Your jokes. Even your favorite books your friends wrote.

I’m still learning – all over again.