The words flowed fast and steady into my family’s shared Tandy 1000 computer. I was going to be an author, an 8th grade literary word slinging Nobel Prize winning author. If you’re going to set the bar, you should set it high. Chapter after chapter poured with feeling and hopes and dreams into the newest technology. It ended when I made a mistake, I hit the save button on my rough draft.
My father read every typed word. He came to me and said, “I read your book. It’s filthy, and I know what you want from boys.” I had written in the family computer my teenage desire to be kissed, and felt up over the shirt. In my book dream, I was loved and popular or at least my main character was. She was also determined to become the first girl in Major League Baseball, a deep rich plot. The character crossed gender lines and began her journey by making the boys’ little league team.
I deleted every word off that computer through blurry tear-streaked eyes. Every. Painstaking. Written. Dream. I deleted them all. I went back to writing the way I had always written, pen and paper. My book would never be seen. It was secretly placed into a pink Trapper Keeper, and on the outside of my Trapper Keeper were scribbles with hearts and the words “I LOVE JOE OLIVER!” He was the Cincinnati Reds’ starting catcher throughout the 1990’s.
I finished my book and hid it under my mattress. It was eventually moved to a blue foot locker where it still sits today. And my main character made it to the “Big Leagues” with her teenage sweetheart. They played on opposing teams.
Opposition would haunt my writing dreams into my adulthood. I met a man and we lived together many years before we were married. In those beginning years, he came home early from work one day. I was working on another book. Mozart was cranked high on the record player and I typed away at my laptop, while wearing big Jackie O styled white sunglasses. He laughed and made fun of me, called me “weird.” I stopped writing in front him. I was a freak flying my freak flag. Nobody was allowed to see my weird tendencies ever again.
A few years later, I sat on our marriage bed as my soul sobbed onto multi colored sheets. The man, now a husband, questioned, “What are you going to do? You always talk about being a writer, but I never see you do it. You haven’t published.”
Don’t test a woman who has a way with words. At my most vulnerable, every desire lifted from my shaking voice. “You don’t know what I do. I write. I have thousands and thousands of words! You don’t know. I don’t need to publish for you!”
I didn’t need to publish for him. I needed to publish for me. I’m published now. No book deals or Nobel Prize, but I’m published. We have a new tradition at Halloween now. We cut a round circle in the top of our pumpkins and we open them up and pluck the seeds out. We gut our family pumpkins on my ink splattered news printed bylines. My words are my guts.
They said it couldn’t be done. It was filthy. It wasn’t up to their standards. They challenged a girl who had only one dream. If you work hard enough at one thing; if you follow your gut instinct, your dreams become reality. The Trapper Keeper has been opened and my dream is flowing out into the world.