It was my mother who introduced me to writing, the love of words, and books. She wrote letters and sent Hallmark cards for birthdays, etc. She spent her free time reading and working crossword puzzles from the Kansas City Star, a newspaper based in Kansas City, Missouri. Her penmanship was smooth and easy. Her handwriting was slightly slanted, soft in appearance, and displayed a sense of style.
Ernestine Marion Gilbert is the real author in the family. She was just never published. Because of her, I published my first book three months after her death (November 2012).
“But I know of a spot in my house where no one can stand in my way. In my own little corner in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be.” The song Lesley Ann Warren sang in the 1965 musical production of Cinderella. This movie takes me back to where it all begins for me. I was eight years old, and I fell head-over-heels in love with Lesley Ann Warren when I heard her sing in my own little corner. I still remember the songs and the overall feel of this classic (from a eight-year-old’s point of view, of course). It just goes to show what a powerful effect a film can have on an innocent little girl when everything is done, right. I haven’t seen it since the late ’60s or so, but I think of it often. It was then when I knew I wanted to create stories as beautiful as that one.
At an early age, I begin writing poems, learning more about poetry as I grew older. Upon entering the 5th grade, my English teacher taught us how to write a Haiku, a type of short form poetry from Japan. She had us describe ourselves, and she would shuffle the papers, and we would spend the next hour or so guessing who wrote it, a very clever way of getting to know us. I was fortunate to have great English teachers, Mrs. Weintraub, Mrs. Purefoy, Ms. Birdsong, and Mrs. Belser. Through the years, my poems became stories, then plays that manifested into backyard productions.
There was never a time that I didn’t like writing, even when punished in school, and made to write, a hundred times, “I will not talk in class” on the blackboard. Except when the chalk sounded like nails on the chalkboard, and my skin would crawl. It was enough to set me on edge. I remember spending countless hours writing. Every night, at the end of my mom’s shift, at Interstate Bookbinding Company, she would bring home stacks of paper and tablets to keep us busy. For me, it was to write. I enjoyed the feeling of the pencil lengthened between my fingers. Words simply aren’t enough to express the pleasure received when the pencil and paper connects. For me, writing always begins with doodling. The pencil never leaving the paper as I drew random and abstract lines, thick, thin, horizontal, vertical, zigzag, diagonal, curly, curved, and spiral, to express myself. Some consider doodling scribbling. I know it as writing. Doodling is the beginning of my creative process.
Recently, I read Maranda Joiner’s first book, “A Lot Alike.” It reminded me of my first love, writing. Reading her book led me to a business plan that I wrote in 2015, a writing school for teens. The dream was to open a facility to serve youth through a writing program, a dream deferred (divorce). The name of the program was “My Little Corner. Welcome to my first love, writing, and my new blog, My Little Corner. My life has come full circle.
Many define a “true” writer as someone who is published. I disagree! My mother was never published, but many of her masterful stories are forever printed on the tablet of my heart.