Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest


How did I begin writing?  Like many of you, I fell in love with literature when I was little.  I escaped into amazing novels when I was a teen.  I was incredibly shy but found that I could express myself easily in words.  I tried writing stories when I was in college...and completely sucked at it.  I dropped out of my first creative writing class on day two without giving it much of a try. 

After fourteen years of marriage, I found myself in the process of getting divorced with full custody of two very young children; I struggled to survive taking care of them while working full-time.  I felt like a failure.  I was ashamed to tell people I was getting divorced with an infant and a first-grader.  I was humiliated that I didn't even see it coming.

So I told people one by one.  And one by one they told me their story. 

There was an epidemic of failed marriages in my building, and most of their stories were worse than mine.  One day after the next, I found myself talking more than working.

A friend of mine (who is now my husband) suggested I write a blog about it.  I'm not a fan of bashing people publicly, especially my kids' dad.  So the blog was private, and my identity was obfuscated.  The blog became more about me, dealing with the day-to-day insanity of being a single mom, than it was about my ex. 

I could only write about the most difficult days, one after the next, by putting a funny spin on it.  But writing about it helped me cope, made me stronger, gave me control.  And I found my voice as a writer of dark comedies.  There's nothing better than hearing the person sitting in the cubicle next to me laughing out loud until they cry after reading my posts. 

Several years later, I got remarried.  Day after day, my husband reminded me I didn't need to work anymore.  After several months, I resigned.  One of my co-workers told me I should write full-time.  My daughter said the same.  But I didn't have the confidence.  I didn't have a story formulated in my mind.

Two years after that I started a consulting business.  A month after I started getting work, I found myself pregnant.  A year after having my baby, I found myself disabled, unable to walk. 

Trapped in a chair, I opened up a silly pink spiral-bound journal covered in cartoon aliens that my kids had bought me for my birthday.  And I wrote my first story, a children's story about the bunny that lives under my porch.  A year later, I was able to walk with a cane and took a writing class where I met my wonderful critique partner.  I finished the last word of that children's story, wrote a novel, and started another.  I wrote about forty poems and several short stories.  I had become that person I thought I would never be...a writer.

Now I have a list of stories to write, more stories to write than time to write them.  I am grateful for those bad times that brought me to this place.  It's been kind of a rough road getting here, but it's been worth it.


80 comments:

  1. It wonderful when affirmation comes from those around us. We tend to think we're not writers until we get the nod from others.

    One of the things I like about writing is that it's therapeutic. Sounds like your writing has been good to you.

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    1. Writing has definitely helped me through rough times. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. wow, what a journey you've been through! It sounds like you have a fantastic family and circle of support! Thanks for sharing your origins!

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    1. My kids and family are very supportive. Thanks for hosting!

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  3. That's certainly been a hard road to travel.

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    1. Yes it has been - but it's been good in many ways.

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  4. I'm so glad you've made it through some bad times, and that you found comfort and support from family, friends and your writing.

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  5. Even though the tough times are difficult to endure, I always come out better after them. Learn the most about myself. Lots of growth opportunities, for sure!! Glad you're writing. Keep it up.

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    1. I agree. Life has definitely given me opportunities. :)

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  6. What a terrific story of triumph! I'm glad you initially found your voice through writing the blog and then later this voice will be what others read through fiction. I can tell it's been a hard road.

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  7. That was an ORIGIN story on so many different levels! YAY for you! Thank you for sharing it with us today!! :)

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    1. I'm wondering if I shared a little too much. Oh, well, too late. Thanks for visiting.

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  8. Yes, that was a story of triumph! You've come a long way, Tonja.

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    1. Thanks. And thanks for hosting. I forgot to put the blurb at the top about the hosts. My apologies.

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  9. Hello Tonja!

    I'm stopping by thanks to the Origins fest. What in inspirational story. Thank you so much for sharing. I wish I know why it sometimes takes tragedy and challenges to push us to find our calling, but when you come out on the other side triumphant, it's a sweet, sweet success!

    Best of luck to you in your writing future!

    Very glad to meet you!
    Jen

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I hope my kids don't need to have quite so many challenges before they find their way.

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  10. Nothing to be 'worried' about here. Just a lot of heart and a lot of emotion. I like that. Honesty too!

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  11. Great story about using those bad experiences for good. I'll be back, nice to meet you via the blogfest!

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  12. Hi Tonja!
    I'm dropping by from the origins blogfest. What an inspiring origins story! I hope you continue to write many, many more stories and poems.

    Your newest follower,

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Thank you. I definitely will. I loved your story too.

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  13. I agree with Brinda that this is a true story of "triumph!" Look how much you've accomplished despite so many obstacles! In addition to finding such a wonderful and supportive husband, your experiences have made you an ideal role model for your children. Thanks for this inspirational story! Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie. This thing with my foot has been really hard on my family.

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  14. Wow! What an amazing story. I love your positive attitude! SO inspiring. I'm so glad you found your voice and found the words to put on the page. So glad you found peace and healing through it. ((CONGRATULATIONS!!))

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  15. That's a fascinating journey with extreme highs and lows. I didn't share this in my story, but I also started blogging in the thick of a divorce. I can very much relate, and I'm inspired by your remarkable successes within such a short amount of time. I'm also a new follower. Great to meet you through this blogfest.
    xoRobyn

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    1. Nice to meet you too. Finding a creative outlet in bad times really helped me. I got in the habit of writing every night, finding something funny to share in my day.

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  16. What a wonderful story! I love that you wrote a blog to get through such a tough time, very inspiring and I can imagine how gratifying it must have been to hear your co-worker laughing at one of your stories. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, and I've no doubt you have many more stories ahead. Great post!

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    1. I think there's nothing better than hearing people burst with laughter. I think that was the point where I was hooked on writing.

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  17. More stories to write than time to write them is a great problem to have. Glad things worked out for you. Really. I love it when people find their way out of a bad place. :))

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  18. Yup. More stories to write than time to write them is my problem as well. Thanks for sharing your story!

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    1. It's good to know that we'll both be writing for a long while. :)

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  19. Thanks for sharing that experience. Life hits us in the gut on occasion, and we either take it or fight back. Looks like you're a survivor.

    I can identify with that feeling of 'what happened?' But it really can be an awakening.

    Dropping by from the Origins Blogfest, and following now.

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    1. I'm not sure how well I would have done if I didn't have kids. Thanks for the follow.

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  20. Hey, a bumpy road makes you appreciate it all that more when you reach your destination. Great post. Thank you for sharing. Count me in as your newest follower.

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    1. Hurray for bumpy roads, huh? Thanks for the follow.

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  21. Rough roads eventually end. Give us fodder for our stories ... so I tell myself. It was great to learn more about you Tonja. Glad we bumped into each other.

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    1. I have a bad feeling mine will only end with a headstone - I'd prefer more bumps. I have some more stories to write. :) I'm very happy to have run into you too.

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  22. Your story is inspiring. I hope it all keeps on going uphill for you.

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  23. It's great when you have so many stories to inspire you. That will help keep you focused. You're only just beginning. This is the very best time! Enjoy it and try not to sweat it too much. It's a long process in a slow business. Patience is number one!

    I'm your 99th follower via the Origins blogfest!

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    1. I agree, this has to be the best time, being in the middle of writing what we want to write. 99th follower?! Yay!

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  24. Wow. What a story! I was there, too, with a failed divorce and two very small children. It is a blow, no matter where things fell apart. Thank you for the courage to share this.

    Bornstoryteller #125 on the linky list.

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    1. The divoice was difficult for all of us. I know it could have been way worse.

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  25. Amazing story!!!! Thank you for sharing this, it's so inspiring. !

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  26. Your story is amazing! Writing has such a powerful ability to help us work through difficult situations and to heal. I'm glad that you found it!

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    1. Thank you. Maybe it's the control it gives us when we otherwise don't have much, or maybe just the escape.

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  27. Bad times are so often the start of something wonderful.

    Write on!

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    1. Isn't it funny how that happens? But at the time it always feels like nothing good can come from bad.

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  28. Wow. What a story. I'm quite glad things are better now. Being alone with kids is scary. I'm glad you've decided to write.

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  29. Congrats on finding happiness again and making something good out of a bad situation.

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  30. Wow, what a great story of perseverance! I love that you found something that makes you happy. New follower :)

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  31. What a story. You are an inspiration for others as you have demonstrated how to make something good out of a bad situation. You are blessed to have found love with your friend (now husband) who encouraged you start that first blog. I am happy that you have found happiness again and I wish only the best for your family and you. I enjoyed reading your touching story.

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    1. Thank you. My husband read this last night and has no recollection of encouraging me to start a blog. Now I'm wondering too.

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  32. Wow! Up until now, I got the impression that most writers were born with a pen in their hand, but this blogfest has shown so many others who started late in this game. I'm glad you finally found your road, though sad that it took such misfortune to get you there.

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    1. Me too. Most of the post I've read involve stories of people that started later, got a lot of support, and persevered.

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  33. woh I like your blog posts, saved to fav! .

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  34. Good for you. Motherhood and writing were not made for each other but somehow we manage.

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    1. Finding time to write definitely is tricky with kids.

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  35. I don't know what to say of your journey....except glad to made it through all the sadness in real life and progressing well in your writing.

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  36. Writing has helped me put things in my life into perspective (good and badO over the years too. Thanks for telling your beautiful story. :) New follower now. :)

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    1. Thanks for 'listening' and for following.

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  37. You are so strong. I've written that on your blog before, but it's so true I have to write it again.

    You inspire a ton of people :)

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    1. Thanks for saying that. I know a lot of poeple that have been through worse (you definitely have), many of whom kept completely quiet about it while listening to my sad stories. For me, holding things in silently makes bad times unbearable - it doesn't make it go away. I'm in awe of people that can suck it up and carry on.

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  38. I appreciate that you are willing to open up and relay such personal info. This is indeed what makes us stronger. I emphasize with you being a single parent, for I was too. Being a single father of two girls was the most wonderful thing that I have ever done. My girls are such well-rounded and pragmatic people, yet I'm sure that the suffer some undetectable abandonment issues Anyway, that's another story. Good luck with your children's books ...

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    1. Kids with parents that don't get along probably have issues too. I did get really close to my kids. We have a lot of memories that we choose to remember now as being funny.

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  39. Sounds like you have gone through your fair share of wars! but I guess life's hurdles are all yet more 'fodder' for stories we can write, aren't they?

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  40. Tonja, I am so sorry to hear about your husband's dad. I hope all are on the mend today! I'm just now getting round to the second column in the Fest! It's been a busy week!

    It sounds as though you've had your share of Life struggles. So cool that writing helped pull you up and out! I've seen you all over the comments and always pause to see what you have to say. I also noticed your posting of your ancestors from Appalachia. Love the old photos! They remind me of mine from Kentucky, where I was born and raised. And coincidentally, my husband is from Cincinnati.

    Looking forward to reading more!

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    1. I feel terrible I wasn't able to get to all of the posts - it sounds like so many people did.

      I'm glad my mom gave me the pictures. Did you notice the girls were all barefoot? :) Thanks so much for stopping by.

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