Day 55: My Writer’s Journey

My mom always told me that I “lived in my head”.  She also told me that I needed to stop because I was getting too old for it.  This was when I was still pretty young too.  I really didn’t understand at that point in time exactly what she meant.  As I grew older, and her meaning became clear, I decided that I liked living in my head.  It was more colorful, comfortable, safe, exciting, and welcoming than the physical world in which I actually dwelt.  And my imagination could run wild and no one told me to get my head out of the clouds.  It was my world and I loved it.  I’ve tried to figure out if I invented that world because I felt as though I didn’t really fit in with everyone else or if the world inside me had always existed and I just moved deeper into it as I discovered that I didn’t fit in elsewhere.  The girls in my neighborhood were real girly-girls.  They liked dolls, playing with their moms’ makeup, frilly dresses, etc….  I was a bit of a tomboy…horses, bikes, dirt bikes, going with my dad to our farm where we had cattle, etc….  But I was most at home in my bedroom with my imagination going full blast.  I went on some of the most wonderful adventures while lying in my bed or sitting on the floor.  I think that my parents were maybe just the tiniest bit concerned about whether I knew the difference between the real world and my fantasy world.  I always knew what was real and what was a figment of my imagination and had no problem jumping back and forth between worlds…so I was a bit twisted and bent but not broken.  When I hit my teens, I really began writing a lot.  I kept a diary religiously until about 16 or 17 when I realized that with a mother that was a first class snoop, it was no longer a diary, it was evidence.  She and my brother read notes from friends, my diary, and anything else that she could find in my room.  It didn’t matter that I was a pretty perfect teen…attended church regularly, hadn’t tried drugs of any kind at that point, hadn’t developed a taste for alcohol, I had a high school sweetheart that had basically become a member of the family and he was a nice boy all the time…not just when he was around my parents… and, except for him and a few others, the majority of my friends were members of our church, I’d never been in any kind of trouble, and so forth and so on.  So there was absolutely no reason for her to snoop.  But that was part of her personality.  So, my diaries became stories with the names changed to protect the guilty and the innocent.  Notes were left behind in my locker.  My latter teen years and early twenties were spent in a teen version of an espionage thriller.  All of that, while a bit stifling and insulting, expanded my imagination.  I’ll skip forward about 10 years (I will say from 23 – 28, while in an extremely abusive marriage, I turned back to my writing to help deal with it) to when I was 28, newly divorced, living on my own for the first time except while in college, supporting myself with a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs, and having a blast.  I was doing everything that my mother was afraid that I was doing in high school but was a lot smarter about it than I would have been back then.  I was hanging out with wild, uninhibited, creative, talented people and I learned more about myself during that period of time than I did in the previous 27 years.  And it freed my mind…I wrote poetry and short stories.  I dated artists that helped me to visualize my writing and make it more vivid.  I filled dozens of journals that detailed every tiny part of my life.  I was, for lack of a better word, a bohemian and I even dressed the part.  It was definitive proof that if you opened your mind wide to things, your brain would not fall out!  I lived that life for a little over 6 years.  I met my husband who was the antithesis of bohemian and over the years, I was somewhat domesticated.  I would still go out with friends but I wasn’t the same person anymore so, with the exception of a couple of them, we lost touch.  People married, had kids, moved away, etc….  We all changed.  We married and it became about being a married couple.  He was 12 years older than me, served in Vietnam while I was in 1st grade, had been married for almost 25 years, started his photography business when I was 12, had 3 kids, went through a nasty contentious divorce and was the polar opposite of every single man I’d ever dated.  But we clicked and will celebrate our 23rd anniversary next month.  He has been nothing but supportive of me in all of my endeavors since we married…even when he doesn’t totally understand them.  I still wrote but not as much because of a new job and I was taking more accounting and legal studies classes which required a lot of my time.  Found my dream job and worked at it for a couple of years before they were bought out by another group whom I worked for another 2 years.  Then I was in a really bad head-on collision one night on the way home.  Fractured my pelvis, broke my clavicle and a bunch of ribs and gave me head to toe deep tissue bruises.  The EMT that was finally able to get to me after they cut the door off told me that I was a living, breathing miracle…he said most people don’t survive a wreck like mine and if they do, they have serious head injuries.  Several small random things saved my life.  I was off work for almost 4 months and when I was able to go back, our backer had pulled out and the business folded.  So, I found a job close to home so that I didn’t have to drive as much… I was gun shy.  It was then that I really got back into my writing.  I was writing a lot of poetry and trying some short stories but decided that I was better at poetry than I was at prose.  I read a lot of books on writing and began developing my “voice”.  Then I met a group of creatives on MySpace…yes, I’m that old!  And that all moved over to FaceBook eventually where I got involved with more creatives.  With the encouragement of a few people in that group, I began writing my novel, Rapture and discovered that I was actually good at prose.  Life got in the way a few times but I would at least take it out and add to it occasionally.  Now after about nine years, finally, I am actually consistently working on it and am in a creativity group and a writing incubator group where I am receiving so much encouragement.  Rick still doesn’t understand it but he’s my biggest cheerleader.  And that’s how I got to where I am right now.              

About Donna Heilman

I am a writer that lives in Irving, TX with my husband, 3 dogs, and 5 cats. I am currently working on my novel, Rapture, as well as writing poetry and some short non-fiction. I am honestly writing this blog to feel more connected with other creative people.
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