Where and When I began to Write

When I was about ten, I met a new friend who has remained close to me all these years. (78 of them!) She used to love to write stories and had me help her develop the plots. I don’t think we ever completed one. Both Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton fans, we wrote mysteries, but could never solve them.

Fast forward to my senior year in high school. Sister Constance–my favorite teacher of all times and, which may be relevant, my English teacher–told the class to write a short story, 3000 words or less. Back then, computers hadn’t even been invented, so most of the kids hand-wrote their stories. I had the advantage of using my father’s portable Royal typewriter. So, I typed the story on half sheets of paper, made a purple and pink cover from construction paper, hand-cut letters to form the title (Sweet Fever)  and author (Joan Foley) and stapled the sheets and cover together to form a book. We all voted on each others’ stories and mine won as the favorite. It wasn’t a big deal, but I find it interesting that I still remember that. Also, I still have the “book!”

I can’t remember now when I started writing seriously. But as a young adult, I wrote letters to the editor of our newspapers (especially when the Vietnam War was waging) and when my four children were very young, I wrote–and sold!–many short stories to children’s magazines. Lord knows, I had lots of material right in my own house.

Then, I found that when any kind of event occurred–be it sad, happy, celebratory, whatever–I immediately wrote about it. Especially the stressful events. And the result of writing about stressful things was almost immediate relief. It was certainly therapeutic. Those tales remained in my files (using an electric typewriter at this point) and were not submitted for publication.

I had to join the workforce for several years, but when my children were grown and my job was less demanding, I began to write again. I won a contest here, sold a story there and I was hooked.

Of course, I’ve looked back and sometimes that was fodder for another story. But I’ve never stopped writing, especially since retirement. It’s not necessarily something I want to do; it’s something I must do.