On Writing (Part I)

I was raised on stories, the stories my mother told me, the books she introduced me to, and of course the stories that I saw on television and movies. Stories have long been my pleasant diversion. But it was my teacher’s response to a composition that I wrote in ninth grade that began my love of writing.

Picture of an older woman looking over the shoulder of a young girl looking at a book.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Just as friendship is an important prelude to marriage, so reading as an important prelude to writing. In fact in both cases, it needs to be more than a prelude but a strong ongoing connection and relationship. Writers need to be readers.

Married people need to be able to like and respect each other, especially on days that they are not so much feeling the love. And, one hopes, on the days we may not even like each other very much (I have heard that it happens) to draw on those public promises we made to love, honor and cherish each other.

I only remember a small part of that first composition I wrote, the setting and the inclusion of subtle or wry humor. What I remember most was my teacher’s praise and encouragement to write. Thank you, Sister Mary Cecile!

The writing that I did not relish was the questions we had to answer at the end of the chapters in our literature books. And yet, we read some classics and the questions forced us to think.

Over the years, through high school and beyond, writing became an occasional pursuit, one that I enjoyed while doing it, but I only wrote when inspiration struck or a particular writing assignment was given. There was however, no discipline or devotion to my writing.

Picture of a woman writing in a notebook while working on a laptop computer.
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

In my defense, I did not go to college until after I was married. I did some writing in my single-parent days, and collected some rejection slips. I wrote some short stories, lots of one-liners, greeting cards and poems.

I got really brave in the early 1980’s and did a portfolio for Hallmark Cards. It was brave, because I cannot draw stick figures, but the cards needed to be illustrated. Rejected. I sent some one-liner’s to Reader’s Digest. Rejected. Now, I have to tell you, that one hurt. Especially the one I sent for “Toward More Picturesque Speech” It was “A fisherman waiting with bated breath.” I thought that was pretty picturesque!

In the meantime, I had three children, got divorced and spent much of the following ten years just trying to keep bodies and souls together. Ten years after that, after getting remarried and two empty nests (my kids and his), I answered a call to pastoral ministry. In the process, of becoming a pastor, I returned to college to get my Bachelor’s Degree, so I could go to seminary and get my Master’s Degree.

Three college level composition classes and a Creative Writing minor, forced me to a certain level of discipline and devotion to writing. Now though, all my writing was assigned, to say nothing of sermons and newsletters.

picture of a large staak of colorful books.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

There were times I felt like I was pushing out the toothpaste that was left in the bottom of the tube. But in college and seminary, given a choice between writing papers or taking exams, I always chose the papers.

History papers, theater papers, and of course all the levels of creative writing class papers, theology papers, biblical studies papers; my papers had papers! Eight years after getting my Master of Divinity degree, I returned to seminary for a Doctor of Ministry Degree and, you guessed it, more papers and a thesis.

Through all these years of writing, I did not give up the dream of publishing or getting published. I admit, I was disappointed to realize that I could not just publish my thesis as is, without a major rewrite. Shucks, I thought it was good and interesting (to a specific audience) and put that in the “maybe one day” category.

Pursing publishing, however, takes persistence and dedication and a lot more. In between getting degrees, I wrote sermons, newsletters and some things that I considered to be fun and hopefully informative. But I only wrote them when the inspiration hit. Still, I had no discipline, or plan, until Onset.

Walking and driving around Onset on those fall, rainy days in 2018 unleashed the floodgates in more than one way. The stories came, in waves, in torrents, rolling around in my head and heart as if they were big enough to contain the waters of Onset Bay and the Cape Cod Canal, Buzzards Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Picture of the
Herring Run Recreation Area Just above the Sagamore Bridge

The memories too came in those persistent waves, until I realized the only way to deal with them was to write. To stop holding back the tide, to commit to making room for them in my day and allow them to spill onto paper. Written, not in pen and ink, but written in the salt water of the ocean and the salt water of tears, of gratitude and memory.

I still write sermons, I love to write sermons! I love biblical stories and characters. I love to read and listen to stories. I am in the car a lot and would be lost without “my” audiobooks and the opportunity to listen to writers who serve up a concoction of delicious words and amazing descriptions.

Writing may be a compulsion or a disease, for which the only cure is discipline and devotion. I have finally resolved to do what the sign on my wall says, and “write something every day!” To let those pesky thoughts out onto paper, before they die of solitary confinement. And so I write, because at 70 years old, I am

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Photo Courtesy of Onset Bay Association

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

20 thoughts on “On Writing (Part I)

  1. Hi Michele – I’m always so envious of people like yourself who have story upon story in their head that they feel drawn to write down. I have nothing like that – my blog is my writing I guess, but it’ll never be a novel or a book or anything more than what it is. So, write away every day and I hope you revel in all the thoughts and memories and stories as you put them together and eventually publish them. x #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, thank you for t hose kind words. there are times I have worried that I might run out of stories, there must be a finite number of Union Villa Stories or Jack and Maggie Stories, We all have different strengths and gifts and approaches. Please know that MLSTL has been a great blessing to me, and has helped me to grow as a writer. Reading the thoughts of other writers, the interactions, the shared vulnerability. All of it, and that would not have happened without you and Sue. Blessings, Michele

      Like

  2. I’m so glad you have continued with your writing Michele, I agree a writer has to be a reader too! Your story about getting to where you are today is inspiring! Well done for all you’ve achieved and yes to write every day is a great goal to have. #mlstl

    Like

  3. This is a lovely post Michelle. Your love of writing in all its forms shines through. I’m pleased you have decided to write something every day. Looking forward to your next post #MLSTL

    Like

  4. So glad we all get the benefit of you “not holding back the tide”. I grew up on stories too. My family was all wonderful storytellers. My mom would tell me stories about princesses and dragons but the ones I loved most were the ones she told about her childhood. Dad was a great storyteller too. I find myself composing essays as I run.

    And I loved your submission to Readers’ Digest. I can’t believe it was rejected!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie, I hope you will write more of those stories. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I “write” in my head. Last night I was tempted to get up at 2:00 a.m. and work on Part II of “On Writing” but I talked myself out of it. I do find, however that the more I write, the more I want to write. One thought occurs to me in all this, “We are the keeper of our families stories. We are the storytellers they have been entrusted to!”

      Like

  5. Hello Michele, writing is certainly in your blood and isn’t it wonderful when the creative juices start to flow and words just run along the page. I write a blog and have never written creatively since school. I find it difficult to journal but through the blog I’ve learned that although I’m not an author or artistic, I am creative in my own expression. Many thanks for being part of the #MLSTL community and sharing your thoughts with us. x

    Like

  6. What kind words, thank you so much. I love and deeply appreciate the connection with the group at #mlstl. I truly believe this connection and community have helped me to grow as a writer, in boldness and risk, and many other ways. So glad that you and Leanne created this partnership. Blessings, Michele

    Like

  7. Michele, You remind me how mentors have made a huge difference in my/our lives. Huge goosebumps on your sentence “Writers need to be readers.” I have a writing friend in my personal life who often says she likes to write, although, she does not like to read. I don’t get it.

    A huge smile with ”A fisherman waiting with bated breath.”

    A fascinating story on your circuitous writing journey. You have always been writing and a writer. I love your description “…written in the salt water of the ocean and the salt water of tears, of gratitude and memory.”

    I have told you before, Michele, how I greatly enjoy reading your stories. You remind me of the concept of poetic prose. You have a gift of sharing your thoughts, your life, your emotions. You bring me along in your tide of memories. Thank you! I look forward to reading more.❤️

    Like

    1. Once again your comments have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much, thank you for seeing something there! I am grateful every day, and this blogging journey and connection is yet one more thing on my list of thanks to God. Blessings for the journey. Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What lovely writing, Michele. It’s a true pleasure to read. I’m glad that you are committing to putting words on paper each day and sharing some of those with us. Carry on.

    Like

  9. Thank you Christie. I appreciate those affirming words. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Part II is in process and Part III is in my head. Blessings for the weekend. Michele

    Like

  10. I can relate to a lot of this, as a lover of words and one who loves to get them down in the right order. It sometimes feels like a need to write things down and record thoughts and history. I don’t get to it every day though, as there are photos to take as well!! I have a few things tucked away hoping for publication one day, some of which have come perilously close. Must dig those out. Christine

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: