Our topic this month is gratitude. There are many things I’m grateful for. Profoundly grateful. Many bounties spring to mind: family, health, a warm bed, a stocked pantry, and a rich community of friends. Many of whom would take my three-a.m. phone call. The prompt, however, has me casting for less obvious considerations. To that end, I’m grateful to have come to writing somewhat later in life.
I’ve share before that I was—gasp—forty when a terrifying and extended cycle of migraines prompted me to evaluate goals. Writing had long been a secret fantasy, but I’d never found the time, or confidence, to act on it. While I can’t deny that it would be nice to have a few more ISBNs associated with my name, it’s worth noting that those forty non-writing years were excellent research.
One area with which I can boast first-hand experience is financial struggle. My father, an auto worker during the turbulent 1970s, was laid off twice. New clothes were a luxury. Spam and scrambled eggs were frequent main courses. And my father’s death when I was a junior in high school plunged us further into crisis. Without government support (in the way of social-security checks) and student loans, I would never have made it through college. Thirty years later and I appreciate the trials.
Another field of life experience for which I’m grateful is travel. I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer. And French was always my favorite subject at school. At college, I did a semester in Paris and returned post-graduation to Nice for an additional year of language immersion. It was, therefore, only natural that I’d end up in the travel industry. I worked for ten years as a tour coordinator in Los Angeles for an inbound tour operator. The job took me all over Europe and the U.S. Living and studying abroad in addition to business travel afforded me a wider perspective on so much that comes up in my writing: family, culture, religion, history, and more.
I can also be called a carpet bagger. I was born in Canada to English parents. I grew up in the Detroit area. I’ve lived in France (see above). I spent twenty years in Los Angeles. And currently reside in Des Moines. Plenty of locales in which to set a story.
Writing is a solitary endeavor. It requires hours of alone time and perseverance. I’m immensely grateful to have the time to devote to the craft. That said, I’m glad I didn’t plant my butt in the writing chair too soon. A full stock of varied adventures—struggles included—are mine to draw from.