I did not stop writing simply because I could never attain my goal. I couldn’t. It was a way of life for me, now. More than that, actually: it had a grip on me that I could not break free of. I didn’t try very hard, because the enticements were too strong. I did make half-hearted attempts every once in a while, because my family wanted so much for me to be "normal." In the end, I stopped bothering them with my ambitions and went underground. Which produced a guilt complex that later took years to overcome.
But doors were opening for me. I might not have hundreds of dollars for the Writer’s Digest Correspondence Course, but I had libraries. I took charge of my own education, and I had my own system. I began at the beginning. That is, I started with the first shelf on the first row, and read anything and everything that caught my interest. If something particularly impressed me, I copied it. Not word for word. I made up a new story with new characters, and copied the style, with all its rhythms and patterns. Even plot lines. If there was a conversation at a certain place, I put one there. If a fight or battle scene occurred in a certain chapter, there would be one in mine, as well. Which also added to my guilt complex, since I often spun off book reports for extra credit school assignments from these to keep from failing in my real subjects. Only once did a teacher ever ask me where I got one of those books.
I told her a great uncle in our family had died and left us an antique cherry bookcase with beveled glass doors on the front. A really exquisite piece. But better than that, the thing was full of old books. He had been wealthy and traveled the world for several years before the First World War, so it was anyone’s guess where they all came from. There was even a diary of those travels, but the handwriting difficult to decipher, although it contained a pressed flower that was over fifty years old. Would she like to see it? Indeed she would. My book reports were forgotten in her pleasure of perusing several of the old volumes that I later brought for her to look over.
Everything that I told her was true.
It’s just that – in my long years of deceit at home – I had learned early that a diversion was the best defense for clandestine behavior. Especially a shocking one. I was also becoming a fairly good judge of character by that time, and figured an eleventh grade history teacher would be intrigued with something historical. Which she was. The toll such behavior took on my own character, however, was much harder to come to grips with.
For it was during that year that my entire life took a turn.
What’s happening on the farm today: The errant dog returned after dark, none the worse for wear, but who knows what he was up to? That dog has more lives than a cat. This morning during chores, the hill I usually walk up was so slippery I had to go around. As I was skating down on my boot bottoms, realizing how awful it would be to fall on the ax I was carrying, I noticed half of the gate was busted off and lying on the ground. Getting to work this morning must have been a bit slippery for Pops, as well. Now, I’m wondering what the car looks like…
Habit status: Day 8 round 2 (continuing to digress)