Why I Write
Francine L. Baldwin-Billingslea
When I was asked if I would be interested in writing a short essay about why and how I come about creating such masterpieces, I got teary eyed as my eyes stayed glued on the word-ďMasterpieces.Ē I sat for longer than I can actually remember reading that e-mail over and over. I went to bed that night thankful and in absolute awe that somebody even considered my writings as masterpieces. I arose early the next morning and hastily washed my face, brushed my teeth, made my cup of coffee and excited to write the essay, I sat at my computer still in my PJís with my mind a total blank. The night before, a thousand and one reasons floated through my brain and I carefully took mental notes, so what happened to them? I laughed as I realized I once again was having a ďsenior momentĒ that lasted much longer. I shut the computer off, said a few prayers, relaxed, and came back a few hours later and began to answer the questions in an almost effortless flow.
It all began back in 2003, when I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and thatís when I started journaling. Having taken an early retirement, I became bored and depressed and didnít know what to do with myself, so I invested in a computer and spent my days and nights pecking my hand written notes into Word documents. It was just a good way to spend my time. I not only wrote about my breast cancer experience, I wrote about becoming a wife and mother at an early age. I wrote about divorce, relocation, remarriage, retirement, my daughter, my grandchildren, friends, nature, love, my dogÖyou name it and I wrote and write about it, the good, the bad and the ugly. I write from the very depths of my heart and soul and find it cleansing, healing, a real stress reliever and time-consuming. I share my experiences, opinions, ideas, get my points across, express myself, vent, reflect and simply, tell a story. I have found writing to be a very therapeutic outlet.
One day as I was browsing, I came across a site that had a call for submissions for breast cancer patients and survivors. I submitted a short story and it was accepted and published. Shortly after, I submitted a story for a ďMemories of mother anthology,Ē that was also accepted and published. I had become a published author without really trying and felt that I was onto something. I had found my new niche. It gave me, an old retired mother and grandmother something else to do besides butting in my daughter and grandchildrenís lives, even though it is wanted and desired butts for all involved.
Writing became a means of escape for me within the confines of my home, and I found that writing non-fiction short stories is my specialty. Thereís just so much to write about since Iím middle-aged and have gone through so much, and itís also a good way to share knowledge and wisdom without preaching. Life has thrown me quite a few lemons, but through my writings, Iíve been able to turn those lemons into lemonade. Itís a way for me to deal with deeply buried issues that needed or needs to be communicated or emptied out. Itís a way to allow others to live vicariously through me or let them know theyíre not alone. Itís a way for me to get lost in the world of fiction, but find myself through non-fiction. Itís a way to encourage, inspire and soothe the soul. Itís a motivational, challenging and creative way to reach out and touch others. Iíve been told that my heart and soul journeys have helped to rebuild fleeting confidence and self-esteem, I know that it has sure helped me in those areas.
Besides all of the above, itís also exciting to know that my name will live on through my writings and publications; itís empowering to know that my writings are read by people all over the world. Writing is also a good brain exercise and it helps to keep my mind, concentration and focusing intact and it helps to develop brain cells in addition to logical and creative thinking, and for a person my age, thatís so important for good mental and emotional health. Itís a true fact that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, it doesnít matter what age a person may be.
Writing has also given me a sincere sense of personal achievement and of course, I canít leave out bragging rights, along with the prospect to make a little pocket change. However, Iím not trying to earn a living from writing, if that was the case; I may as well get a push cart and head to the nearest park or under the closest bridge, and I donít write to gain fame and fortune, although both would be nice. I write for people like me and you, and knowing that just one person has benefited or smiled because of something that I wrote is all the pay I want, need and often get, but itís adequate and much more than I ever expected or imagined, and the fact that Iíve been given the gift, chance and opportunity to leave my loved ones my legacy through my writings is priceless.
There have been so many times in my life when I questioned, why me? But Iíve finally realized that all things happen for a reason, had it not been for those times, most likely, I would not have become the woman I am today, and there wouldnít be a reason for writing this piece. This is all a part of the divine plan for my life, a plan that I had not planned on, but a plan that Iím so grateful for. Being thankful for all things has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Iím not sure if my writing is a talent or a gift, but whatever it is, Iím nurturing, enjoying and sharing it, and the fact that Iíve grown to have a passion for it really puts the icing on the cake.
As far as my writing is concerned, I thought I had arrived after my first two publications. I thought I had arrived when my youngest grandchild told me she was proud of me and she wasnít saying that just because she wanted something. I thought I had arrived when I had to get another book shelve for all of my publications. I thought I had arrived when I authored and published my memoir. But when I received the e-mail from BellaOnline stating that they wanted to feature a non-fiction writer for their current issue and looking through their past issues, I stood out as one of their favorites, I felt as if I was just sent a million dollars, and it was then that I knew without any doubts that indeed, I had finally arrived, and like my writings, this thank you comes from the very place where masterpieces are made, from the very depths of my heart and soul.