I Get to Write
/by Suzanne May/
I loved to read and when I was little; I’d put myself to sleep at night making up stories. Somewhere around ten, I decided that when I grew up I’d write stories just like the ones I read. When I grew-up, I still wanted to write down stories for a living, but it didn’t sound practical or sensible enough, so I became a nurse instead. I got married and had kids and worked to pay the bills. I had a thousand excuses not to write so I didn’t. However, the desire to write never left me, but over time I began to think that since I never pursued writing, I never would.
When I was forty-seven, I went to a friend’s funeral. We graduated from high school together, and the night before her funeral there was a viewing inside the funeral home. A whole lot of people were packed into a little room; I got churned around and suddenly found myself directly over the open casket. My friend was a pretty girl in life, but in that coffin her face was death.
It was hot in there and I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out. I finally found the door and stood on the steps watching a big red sun going down over the cemetery. I took a deep breath of cold air, and with that breath it hit me that I didn’t have forever. If there was something I wanted to do, I’d better do it.
Shortly after the funeral, I was standing at the sink washing dishes with my sister-in-law, who was a speech therapist, and she’d written some very fine stories. I told her I’d always wanted to write, but hadn’t written anything I’d ever want to read. She just looked at me and said, ‘You can learn to write. There’re all sorts of teachers and courses to help you.’
How did I get to be so old before I understood this? I’d always thought a writer put their pen over a piece of paper and a story came out. Since I hadn’t done that, I wasn’t a writer.
I enrolled in English 101 at the local college, where the teacher looked fourteen to me. He said, ‘We’re going to learn to write by writing stories, whatever you want.’ Then he said, ‘I’m so excited.’
I was so excited as well, I wanted to burst, and I have been excited ever since. When I get down in the dumps, I think back to that moment.
My life’s turning out right for me. I may be older, but I now write because I get to write. You can’t write from inside a coffin.
It’s fun to think up stories and make them better and better. If anyone reads them now — like on ShortbreadStories.com — and they like my work, then it’s a singing day for me. I’m doing my job.