Monday, April 23
Being a Writer Means Being Bold
The Wranglers are so happy to have Nan Reinhardt with us today. She's a chapter sister and kindred spirit of Liz and her debut novel, Rule Number One, is a must-read.
Nan is a romance writer and an incurable romantic. She’s also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and almost a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last fifteen years, has earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. But writing is her first and most enduring passion. Rule Number One is her debut novel. Two other novels are currently with her agent, Maureen Walters, of Curtis Brown Literary Agency in New York. Like Jo March, she writes at night, after the work is done and her household is asleep. Talk to her at www.nanreinhardt.com.
I’m into dragonflies–no, I don’t collect dragonfly paraphernalia or have dragonflies all over my house, I just like dragonflies. It’s because of my mother. She gave me my first dragonfly (a pendant on a silver chain) when my son was born 32 years ago with the caveat that I couldn’t put it on until I was prepared to live a bold life. What the hell did she mean by “live a bold life”? With the arrogance of youth, I dismissed her words and tucked the pendant away, but every so often over the years, I thought about it.
It wasn’t until long after she died that I gradually began to see what Mom meant about being bold. As I crept into middle age, I was (and often still am) a restless mess of a woman, needing something and having no idea what, wanting change and yet not knowing why or how. Feeling like I was missing out, but not knowing how to move forward. I buried myself in work, I cried a lot…and I realized something significant.
Mom was right, I wasn’t bold. It wasn’t that she expected me to take a trip down the Amazon or jump out of a plane—she simply wanted me to be bold enough to figure who Nan was, to dig deep inside and find Nan’s dreams. I loved being a wife and mother and thoroughly enjoyed my job as a freelance editor, but for years, I wanted to write again like I did when I was a kid. From the time I could hold a pencil, I filled notebook after notebook with fantasies and stories. When did I stop engaging my very active imagination? When did I stop believing I could be a writer? Mom had never given up on that dream—I had.
One Thursday morning in 2008, after a long, cleansing cry, I dug in my jewelry case for the velvet box that held Mom’s dragonfly. With a deep breath (and an eye roll for Mom, who I’m sure was looking down and saying “about damn time, kid!”), I clasped it around my neck. I sat down that day and started writing. In the past four years, I’ve written three books, acquired an agent, had one novel published, and am hard at work on novel #4. I’ve started a blog, joined a writers group, and attended workshops and conferences. I’m braver. Why just today, I went to the Indiana RWA’s workshop with Bob Mayer. He was inspirational and his talk included some wise words about being bold, “The future belongs to the brave, not the fearful.”
Mother never got to see me wear her gift, but whenever I see a dragonfly, I know it’s her, flying by to say, “Hey, there’s my bold girl! You finally got it!” Well, maybe not completely, Mom, but I’m finally on my way…”