A dinosaur.That’s what my first book was about. At least, I think. I close my eyes and I vividly remember this paper book in my hands, cut out in the shape of a dinosaur head. Along the back of his head was a line of hole punches with purple yarn holding the entire book together.
I don’t remember what the book was about or what elementary grade I was in when I created it. I know it passed through my hands when I moved out of my childhood home and unearthed the boxes in my grandparents basement. You know the one, full of the things that seem to get held onto for a lifetime. I love boxes like that. Everything that makes us US is represented. I’ve tried so hard to put at least one thing, big or small into a box for my own children every year to have one day. When they grow up, and they move out and they unearth those boxes they will see; this was the best of them. Pieces and parts of personality while they were still forming. Magic, mid-creation.
I had no idea what the dinosaur book was about, my immediate memory was of something completely different than the story. I remembered the typewriter.
I think it belonged to my great-grandparents because I simply cannot imagine my grandmother making use of one. She had the most amazing penmanship I’ve ever seen. I used to stare at the mail, or a check she had written, or even a grocery list and wonder how I could get my handwriting to look anything like hers. Time and practice, she’d say. But that’s a post for another day…she had this typewriter collecting dust in the basement. Black, shiny metal with small round circle buttons standing on skinny tall typing keys. It made this glorious old fashioned sound that my little brain could not get enough of. I loved the click, clack, click as my fingers chose the right letters. I loved the way the words appeared on the crisp white paper in their slightly worn looking patterns. I specifically remember stopping many times and running my fingers along the top where the little metal typebars laid perfectly aligned until a key was selected and it would fly up and hit the ink ribbon in front of the paper.
I think I was the only ten-year-old girl who was thrilled with a stack of clean white paper. I can still feel it in my hands as I carefully rolled it into the platen and sat back for that second before I would begin typing.
Once upon a time…
That’s where my story began; in my grandparents basement writing a multitude of amazingly forgettable stories (which they kept) on an unforgettable piece of machinery (which they did not keep).
I’m still obsessed with the memory of this old typewriter. Recently I was paroozing the isles at TJ Maxx (I know, I wish it was somewhere more bohemian for you, but TJ Maxx is pretty amazing) I came across a silver framed black and white print of an old fashioned Underwood typewriter. It looks exactly like the memory in my mind, so now it hangs in my office and I smile every time I see it. The memory of sentences and sentences, paragraphs and pages of what was no doubt the pure nonsense of a child still lays fresh in my mind.
You never know what is going to introduce you to your passions of life, and you certainly never know when. I look at my oldest child and think that I knew I wanted to be a writer at his age, deep down. It wasn’t loud enough yet, but it was there. I look at my youngest child and think at his age, I had no idea. The magic, for me, happened somewhere in the middle. Everything they get excited about these days, I wonder, is this their passion?
Becoming a writer was one of the most natural experiences in my life. The click, clack, click of the keyboard under my fingers is a lullaby to me. There was nothing hard, nothing challenging. For the first time in my life, I was able to turn that part of my personality all the way up. Becoming an author…now that was hard work.
Enter the plotlines, and formulas, and grammar rules, and genres, and the classes and the marketing, and blogging and the metadata (seriously, what the hell is metadata?) and…oh, for the love of an oxford comma. Sixteen different times I have thought that the book I am currently working on is absolute crap.
But then something amazing happened. I walked into a room of writers who I have spent years admiring. I’ve read some of their book, and can only dream of having stories as richly told as theirs. From the minute I entered the room, I started backpedaling in my own career. I found it very hard to stare a writer in face, a writer who I know has sold hundreds of thousands of books, and say to them that I am a writer too. I’m not a writer, you’re a writer. I’m just….a dreamer.
The amazing part that I mentioned, happened when they admitted that they are just dreamers too. Every single writer I met that night asked me what my book was about, and what I want out of writing. They asked me what my passions were, and were happy to share moments of similarity. I was thrilled beyond belief to hear an award winning novelist admit she had been up all night because the last 2700 words she wrote were absolute trash and she just couldn’t figure out how to get from point A to point B in her plotting wheel, noting she may just kill everyone off in chapter nine and open a bottle of wine.
What I took away that evening, besides an amazingly ugly little stuffed Santa from the “re-gifted” exchange, was to always be a dreamer. Always remember that writing is a passion I chose. Don’t think abut the plotlines, and formulas, and grammar rules. All of that can be worked out. All of that can be learned. What can’t be learned, or faked, is what I hear when I hear the click, clack, click of the keyboard. This is my song.
Sing it loud, sing it proud.
…and the award winning Authors cheered me on. ME. Because they know the words to that song, they hear it too.
My passion is writing, but what’s yours? Do you find yourself in love with an old trunk full of travel stickers? Does it make you want to see the world? Do you find yourself flipping through your grandmother’s tattered and torn recipe book, stopping to study splatter marks from a sauce that boiled over twenty years before you were born? Does it make you want to feed your soul? Do you find yourself seeing the world one captured moment at a time through your camera? Does it make want to freeze time, if only for a second, so you can have THAT feeling forever? Do you dance, do you sing? Do you count your dollar bills over and over, organizing and planning on charts for the future not because you need to but because you love the way the numbers come together?
Sing it loud, sing it proud and remember that we are all dreamers. Think back in your life, and you’ll find it. What would I find if I opened up the childhood box that represents the best of you? I was a child when I first heard my calling…but it took me three decades to listen.
What would you hear if you stopped and listened? What is the click, clack, click sound of your heart?
Alexa Jacobs was born and raised in the suburban outskirts of Baltimore, and now lives with her husband and sons in central Maryland. Her debut novel, Rising Ridge, has been hailed by critics as a relatable tale of a young woman’s journey into first love and new adulthood. She is an active member in both the Maryland Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America.
In her second novel, The Dreamer, Jacobs explores Contemporary Romance with Suspense. The Dreamer will be available in September 2016.
Find out the latest updates from: http://www.alexajacobs.com