Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where do I go from here?

I knew I'd been bitten by the writing bug, but wasn't sure what to do about it. What should I write, I wondered? A short story? A book? A movie? They all sounded extremely daunting, especially the movie. I mean I didn't know anyone who had ever written any of these things, much less sold them. I'd heard somewhere that you should write what you know. I took stock and my heart sank. It seemed that all I really knew was how to be a wife and mother: cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, and all the other day to day tasks that make up any stay-at-home mom's agenda. Oh, and driving my kids everywhere under the sun, including school, little league, ballet, piano, and karate classes, soccer and Pop Warner football practice. Not to mention acting as class mother at school, volunteering for yard duty, and playing wandering troubadour with my guitar at some of their classes.

On second thought, I decided I did know those jobs pretty darn well, especially feeding my large family on a budget. Although I had a college degree, my husband Bob and I decided that one of us should stay home to raise the children (we had both been raised as latch-key kids and wanted to avoid this with our own offspring). Since he'd been making considerably more money than me when we married, it seemed like the logical person to stay at home was me. Because of this decision, which neither of us really wanted to change, we were now attempting to raise seven children on a single income. And accomplish it, moreover, in a healthy manner, with nutritious as well as filling meals. With each additional child, this had turned out to be a lot harder than we'd anticipated!

After several weeks of self-doubt and procrastination, I finally dusted off my mother's old -- VERY old, before computers old! -- upright typewriter and sat there, fingers poised, with absolutely no idea how to put my homemaker's skills to work on paper. Surely I couldn't be the only mother engaged in the never ending battle with the checkbook. There must be hundreds, nay thousands, of like-minded souls just waiting to hear my words of wisdom.

Taking out the calculator, I spent every spare minute that week trying to figure out just exactly how much I spent on each member of our family each day for food. The answer astonished me: I was spending approximately 37 cents per person, per meal! And this was for good, solid food, mostly cooked from scratch. Granted, this was over thirty years ago, still I'd had no idea just how good I'd become at stretching the illusive dollar. Surely that would be a good thing to write about, I decided, and in the one medium I hadn't even considered: a newspaper columnist!

(On Monday, my first hesitant steps into the world of journalism)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How I was first bitten by the writing bug

I've had so many readers ask me how I happened to start writing, that I decided I was missing a great blogging opportunity. From writing PENNY PINCHERS, a weekly newspaper column about how to feed a family on a budget, to authoring 15 novels and co-writing several TV movies, it's been a fun journey.

It all began after the birth of the youngest of our seven children (4 girls and 3 boys). By then the older kids were in school, and I started daydreaming about what I wanted to be once the final little Tallman also boarded the school bus. I took stock of what I might have to offer the world: I had a college degree in radio and television -- used working at a local TV station to pay for tuition and board, but not touched since I'd graduated -- a love of snow skiing, bike riding, listening to music and watching movies, none of which was likely to provide me with a pay check. I also loved reading books, ever since childhood, although that didn't appear any more promising as a career choice.

Or was it? What would it be like to actually write a book, I wondered? Kind of scary. I comforted myself with the thought that nobody had to know what I was doing -- so no embarrassment if I failed. Right? But could I even pull it off? Hmmm.

(On Saturday, my first, faltering efforts to write professionally)