Warning: This is a long posting. You may want to bypass it until you have a cup of tea and a scone in hand for leisurely reading!!!
After leaving the convent on Christmas Eve 1966 at age 30, I collapsed in my parents’ home and simply stared into space. The next year, because of a friend’s graciousness, I was offered work as an editor at a Dayton, Ohio, publishing house that produced Catholic weekly readers called “messengers.” I worked as the religion editor for My Little Messenger, a publication for first and second graders.
For the next seventeen years I taught briefly in Dayton and in Claremont, New Hampshire, and studied for a master’s degree. The rest of the time I worked as an editor and writer, first for Pflaum in Dayton and then for Winston Press in Minneapolis.
Beginning in 1973, I worked myself up from editor, to co-director of the Winston trade department, to director of its curriculum department. By 1984, I was working fourteen hour days: eight at the office and six each evening at home. Exhaustion finally took its toll, and in mid-July of 1984, I resigned from my position to become a freelance line editor, copy editor, and curriculum developer.
I freelanced until my retirement in 2001. During those seventeen years, I completed projects for a number of Catholic publishers as well as small presses throughout the United States. I also began teaching professional editing in evening and Saturday classes at the University of Minnesota, the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, and Metropolitan University.
During those seventeen freelance years, I set an hour aside each morning for my own creative writing. I’d begun writing, as all of us probably do, in grade school. The Sisters of Mercy taught me the basics and I became enamored of words and their power to paint pictures.
In college, my mentor became Sister Scholastica—a Benedictine. She encouraged me to let my imagination soar, and I wrote short stories, fantasies, essays, and poetry before entering the convent in June 1958. However, for the next eight and a half years, the convent offered no time for writing and I lost any interest I had in expressing myself with words.
That continued until I became a freelancer in 1984—so for twenty-six years I did no writing of my own stories. Then, when I became a freelancer, I suddenly got the idea for a romance. As I’ve posted before, I wrote two romances and they were “duds.” But when Dulcy, the cat with whom I’d lived for seventeen and a half years, died in 1989, she gave me the story of our life together and I began to write again.
Dulcy and me.
For the past twenty-nine years, I began one thing after another, but that demon of perfectionism has kept me from completing much of anything—the words just never seemed to be anything more than mundane.
And yet, as I sit here today I realize that I have finished a few things and I’m eager to work on others. Here’s what I’ve complete in final draft—edited and polished. The first three listings have been published.
· A Cat’s Life (Dulcy’s memoir)
· A Cat’s Legacy (Dulcy’s gift of twelve habits of highly successful cats)
· Twenty children’s books for Capstone Press under the name Dee Ready and the pseudonym Anna O’Mara.
· The Gift of Bastet Net (Book 1 of the Great God of Cats fantasy series)
· The Reluctant Spy (a novel that takes place in first-century Palestine)
· A Multitude of Angels (the text for a series of photographs by Judy King who did the art for Dulcy’s memoir and who is doing the art for The Gift of Bastet Net)
One of the sketches for The Gift of Bastet Net.
And here is the additional writing I’ve done, but not completed, during the past twenty-four years:
· A first draft for the novel Winter Tapestry, about four ex-nuns.
· A first draft of Three Roads Diverged. This is Book 1 of a trilogy I plan that takes place in Bronze-Age Greece.
· Half of Book 2 of the Great God of Cats fantasy series—Warriors of Bastet-Net.
· Half of Book 3 of the Great God of Cats fantasy series—Prayers to Bastet-Net.
· Drafts for two picture books for children.
· Several chapters for a memoir by the four cats with whom I lived after Dulcy died.
· Two romances.
· More than 200 postings that will become part of a single memoir or of a trilogy of memoires: early life, convent, post convent.
So, on this day, when I woke up and felt a little down. A little blue. A little annoyed with myself for being so lazy and for getting so little done. On this day . . . I’m realizing that I have been true to the longing I have to write. Thank you for all the encouragement you’ve given me through the past months. No one could ask for better and more helpful support. Peace.
PS: Mount Saint Scholastica, the convent I joined, is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. The nuns there have invited all of us who left the convent to come back for a celebration this coming weekend. I’m eager to go and to meet friends I haven’t seen in 47 years. Given this, I won’t be posting here next Sunday.