Labor Day, 2018
I’ve been working on re-writes for the past year on all my books. What an exercise in humility, uncomfortable at times, but I’ve learned I’m not as great as I’d thought, and not as bad as I feared. I’m sure most authors, when re-visiting older work, experience the same.
The only new writing I’ve done was in a workshop at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with Douglas Jones. It’s an activity I encourage any writer to try. I’ll share this one.
The very first time I got a message I couldn’t deny coming from another realm, was when I was eight and at Girl Scout camp. This occurred nearly a year after my father’s stroke. After a long hospitalization, he came home a stranger wearing my father’s skin.
No one noticed me shutting down. My parents fought constantly. My world disintegrated to a gray place and I had no understanding why.
Outside of craft time, camp was never much fun for me, and that year was especially miserable. I hadn’t made many friends. It rained a lot. I’d read all my books. I was unhappy as hell and felt like the unluckiest girl there.
A tradition at the camp was to give each other nicknames. This particular year it was “P.D.” and I can’t remember what it stood for. I remember the initials though. One afternoon, slogging my way through mud and rain to the mess hall, I had a compulsion to pick up a rock. Not an unusual one, it was among thousands littering the red earth, and newly uncovered by rain.
I turned it over and in bright blue letters was, “P.D.”
I was shocked. Thrilled. I could hardly believe it was real and kept it safe in my suitcase under my cot. I’d pull it out and look at it a few times each day to make sure the letters hadn’t faded. That it wasn’t a dream.
I still have it, in a glass box on top of my dresser. It was a promise of some kind. Someone, or something, had noticed me at last.