The flight of a word along the electrical pulses in the brain writes upon the mind, not just the paper. The ability and desire to create can produce everything from advertising to poetry to a novel. My writing produces something unique to myself: the reproducing of the connections in my brain.
As people age, they are encouraged to try new things to keep the synapses in their brains fresh and possibly create new ones. Our ability to think can, in fact, be increased when we keep those neurotransmitters in our brains working as much as possible by greasing them with new ideas.
Most writers will tell you how much they enjoy writing, how many hours they spent agonizing over a single word or phrase. Words flow from their minds in a feverish frenzy at times as they also do from mine. Sometimes the joy reaches such heights that I laugh or cry as the words pour out from my fingers to the laptop’s keyboard then appear on the screen. However, it wasn’t always that way.
All through my youth, my letters to my grandmother, a well-known Idaho writer, were written in rhyme. After the daily practicing on the piano and my operatic vocal lessons, I would quench my hunger for words by pouring over the local Army Post’s library dictionaries and encyclopedias. As I grew older, however, my talent as a musician became my career until I was almost 60 years old. I’m even a published composer. Then, poor health from two brain tumors forced a retirement from the music.
Five years before March of 2005 when I started my novel, Safe in All Things, I had what’s commonly called a mini-stroke. A TIA. The effects were so minimal that most people, including my husband, couldn’t really tell that any damage had been done. However, as an award-winning speller in my youth, I noticed the difference. The missing connection appeared between words in my head and those from my mouth. Quite frequently my mistakes were humorous but my life-long affection for words – their correct spelling and pronunciation – heightened my frustration.
I remembered my Grandma Robinson’s solution, the reason she had started writing. Tuberculosis had almost killed her in her youth. As the wife of a man who built railroad lines then dairy farmed over the years, even with her weakened heart, she had five children. The physical stress of daily work threatened her again with near death. Someone gave her an old typewriter and she started rising at 3 a.m. to write for an hour before the milking started. Not because she envisioned becoming a famous writer, but to relax. To be herself for those few quiet hours of the day. To her surprise, her stories were not only read, but published. After her heart attack just prior to my birth, she wrote a book that was published titled The Contrary House. Her inspiration to me lives on.
Without realizing what the effects would be, I volunteered in the Payette County, Idaho, court system doing guardian and conservatorship investigations, writing reports, filing court documents and translating the State code on such into layman’s terms. That document is still used to train volunteer guardians statewide. Beyond the obvious, however, was the way my brain started working again; the way I was able to address a judge or face-off with the enemy with well-chosen words.
After that training ground, things changed again. In the fifth-wheel that became the retirement home for my husband and myself, I read seventeen books by Elizabeth Peters in six weeks. After that, I tried a few other books but my imagination kept filling up with my own ideas. My difficult marriage had gone from emotional abuse to threats of physical violence and my mind withdrew into a solitary place, looking for peace. There, I found the words again, the scenarios.
In late March of that year, I went from reader to writer. The small story in my head poured out into a trilogy of novels in less than three months because I simply couldn’t stop writing. Of course, much editing was required over the next couple of years to eliminate or tighten scenes, correct grammar, and simply reduce the novels into good reading material. But the joy of playing with the words remains.
I’m still a little slower when I’m tired or ill. However, writing has become such a passion that I will die with my laptop literally on my lap while sitting on my bed, just as it is now. It lives beside me in place of my ex-husband. And those three novels have turned into ten books in the Safe in All Things series. My busy fingers have also produced two short novellas (How To Screw Up Five Lives in One Easy Lesson, and A Week at the Ranch), another novel length story with the romance wrapped around a stalker (A Tanda of Tangos), three western short stories in my grandmother’s style, and an ever-increasing give volume journal of photos and prose poems called Feeding My Wolf. I’ve produced a CD of my own music, have a web site for my thoughts, and have readers of all ages and genders around the globe.
Although I’ve made very little money at it, success in my world is the ability to think clearly and express it. Instead of the clacking and ringing noises of my grandmother’s old typewriter, a slight flicking noise comes from my laptop’s keyboard as my fingers try to catch the image in my mind before it flees from the vision. I’ve applied a lot of grease to my neurotransmitters and they even keep me up until 2 a.m. on some nights. Some words still elude me, but not for long. In fact, I have the uncanny ability to remember something right around three o’clock in the morning. Perhaps something that also relates to my age.
All in all, I think I’ve reaped the greater benefits of writing, although not the success of being published traditionally. Writing has helped the synapses that were stolen by a small breaking blood vessel in my brain by developing new highways. My neurotransmitters are alive and well and firing on all cylinders albeit at odd hours of the day.
Causes Lynn Steen Supports
The Slumcode Group, a Community Based Organization, located in the heart of Huruma, a densely populated residential town in Nairobi - Kenya...