If you live up here in northeastern Minnesota I don’t have to remind you of the lousy weather we’ve has over the past several weeks–rain, frost, and this morning snow on the rooftops. And, more coming tonight. The weather-guessers say that the weak sun of today is the last we’ll see of ‘old sol’ for the next several days. Yet, there was something that bad weather can inspire . . . those many, many, delayed chores around the house. After procrastinating for months I took a good look at my office. I spend lots of time here writing, editing, researching, etc. And, I’ve become a terrible organizer–tablets, sheets of paper, books, Manila files, and rough drafts of countless books I’ve written. An absolute mess with a desk like an island in an ocean of paper. I started with file cabinet #1 and a large leaf bag (all will be recycled) and began tossing lots of things that, for some reason, I’d always believed were vital. In file cabinet #2 I continued discarding files until the bag was almost too heavy to get out of the room. Then I found something buried at the bottom of drawer two, under the house title documents and old homeowners insurance folders. It was a blue folder about an inch thick. I had no idea what it might be and was tempted to toss it. (I was finding that if I spent too much time on any one thing I was tempted to ‘save’ it for now. That defeats the purpose of a major clean-up).
In the blue folder was a treasure I had long forgotten about.
Let me explain. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I was writing short stories; mostly for the fun of it but also to work on different writing styles. Twelve stories were rediscovered: ‘Best Friends’, ‘A Time to Keep’, ‘A Third Tomorrow’,’On a Roll’, and ‘Justina’ to mention a few. Naturally, my clean-up project was over . . . I had to read the stories; and now! What surprised me was that they were not too bad. In fact, the four that I read were quality manuscripts and compelling stories. I brag, but in all honesty, I was entertained. I can only hope that the next several will be as good.
Maybe, more than anything else, I discovered something about myself that I had forgotten. Writing has been a passion for many more years than I realized. I know that my first novel (To Bless or to Blame) was a one-year project back in 1981 and ended up in a box in the basement. I’d written to many NYC agents and publishers only to get discouraging rejection letters. It was shortly after that that I returned to teaching at Hibbing High School.
I thought that the twenty years between ’81 and my retirement in 2001 were devoid of any further writing. I do know that when I retired I found the box containing my novel and fell back in love with the history of the early Iron Range, the characters I’d created, and the drama of it all. A year later, I published the story and it sold so well that I had to have a second and third printing. From there I went on to publish several more Moran stories through five generations.
I had completely forgotten those short stories . . . until my discovery the other day. I’m too consumed with my new novel’s publication to give much thought to what I’m going to do with them. The ‘discovery’, more than anything, was an insight into my self and that in and of itself is more than enough. I will never write a ‘best seller’ but I realized that I could then, and still can tell a pretty good story. Life’s treasures may be buried under the dust of time or locked somewhere in our subconscious–but we all have them. And if we discover them, we can travel back to times forgotten. I wish you all an experience like mine.