Saturday, October 07, 2006

Girls Night Out

Last night I had a great time meeting with Maribeth and Patty, the other two members of
“Cookies and Milk.” We got together at Bob Evans for dinner, a planning session, and an
early thanksgiving for the awesome week we’ve had.

On Monday, we had the second meeting of our newly formed, Southwestern Ohio Children’s Writer’s Guild. We welcomed a guest speaker and four interested newcomers. Then on Tuesday, after a month of rapid timing on God’s part, we became newspaper columnists. Or is one a columnist when one gets a whole page? Is there such a thing as a newspaper pagist? Our “Cookies and Milk” page debuted in The Times Gazette.

Isn’t life funny sometimes? Something you never anticipated happens? Like worrying about your tire going flat and instead of that, you lose your keys. (Don’t ask.) Finding myself in the newspaper is like that–a who me moment I never expected.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. When I graduated from high school, the options for going to college to BE a writer were somewhat slim. If you wanted to be a journalist, fine. There were schools for that. Fiction, huh? Better get a day job and forget it. These days you can specialize in esoteric topics like gum paste or medieval weapons and no one bats an eye. You can probably go to Gum Paste U, make candied violets for cakes your entire life, and become an ‘authority.’ Not so my senior year. If you wanted to be a writer, there was only one acceptable course—journalism. That would have been fine except for one thing. I thought writing for newspapers had to be one of the dullest job on the planet. It was too rigid. Too formalistic. Too boring. It wasn’t a dream I entertained at all. I’m not a bit ashamed to have my former thoughts proven wrong.

“Cookies and Milk” is turning out to a wonderful learning experience. That the three of us have been able to come together, that we work well as a team and are producing a great page is nothing short of God inspired. Last night we couldn’t help but reflect back on the short time we’ve actually known one another. This truly has all come about as perfect timing. I anticipate working with these two wonderful ladies for a long time

I’m also glad to find there is nothing boring about writing for the newspaper. The opposite is true instead. Tuesday saw the debut of my Jenny character in PRINT. My “baby” went out into the big, wide world. Having people read Jenny is a dream come true. Fiction in a newspaper, what a twist

When I was a little girl, I put myself to sleep with Jenny stories. Jenny came from our family’s love of westerns. If it had horses or cowboys in it, Dad watched it. If we wanted to watch, and what kid didn’t, we watched westerns. My favorite was “The Big Valley.” Oh, I loved that debonair Jarrod Barkley....and it was easy to imagine him having a neat daughter named Jenny. Jenny was my alter ego—the daring cowgirl with her own pony, a houseful of doting family and a whole ranch to have adventures on. A far cry from my own suburban existence as a shy, bookish kid who was afraid of any animal bigger than a kitten.

As I got older, I put Jenny away for a bit with my tattered dolls and Nancy Drew books. There were times when I pulled her out of my imagination at night, using her for comfort as I escaped into the snug world I’d created for her. I didn’t try to write Jenny until I discovered the world of fan fiction. Sometimes people ask me if I’m embarrassed to admit I write fan fiction–Big Valley to be precise. Nope, not a bit. At a time in my life when I thought I’d never be able to write again, I stumbled into the “Valley” and reconnected to a character I loved. Jenny came to life in a way I’d never thought possible. People actually LIKED her.

For the newspaper column, and the Jenny books I’m working on, she had to go mainstream. She’s no longer Jarrod Barkley’s little girl, but she’s still the mischievous character of my imagination. Seeing her in print is a dream come true. It’s been a truly awesome week. Dirty darn, as Jenny would say, life is good

Now if I could just find those lost car keys. . . .


Leona said...

Congratulations on your new found sucess Donna! I can feel your excitement through your post and I'm so happy for you! Jenny is a wonderful character and love reading about her. Keep us posted on all your successes, we love to hear about them!

Anonymous said...

Wish I could have come and helped you celebrate your success in the newspaper. Sounds like you had a great time.

I want to hear the story of the lost car keys and the never flat tire.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to your team and Jenny. Enjoy your who me moment.

And your keys? You'll find them in the last place you look.

Mylady2 said...

Long may Jenny reign! We adore her! Thank you for continuing to share her with your Valley friends.
Wonderful site Donna, and congratulations on your first published works!
God's blessings on you and those you love.

nlindabrit said...

I got a huge kick out of reading about Little Miss Cameron in the paper! Great to see a BV OC making it out in the wide world. You should be proud, as I am of you, my friend!