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Life Between My Pages presents Lynda Simmons
April 01, 2011
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We are pleased to bring you BCQ's own series, Life Between My Pages!
This series will feature a selected author each month who will share with you their personal story about how they got to where they are today.
Prepare to be completely WOWED by these writers! You've read their books, fallen in love with their style, now learn about their journey.
Each month, when the newsletter shows up in your inbox, look for the featured author's name in the subject line. Some authors you will immediately recognize, some you will not. We can assure you that every single author invited to participate will tell a story you won't want to miss!
While thinking about the title of this piece, I started to wonder - is there life outside the pages? I soon realized that the answer is no, not really. Certainly, there appears to be a life because I teach, and have friends and throw parties and love to sit in the morning with a cup of tea and a newspaper spread on the kitchen table, poring over every page before my day begins. On top of which, my adult children like me, I'm still married to my highschool sweetheart, and if you were to ask them, they would undoubtedly tell you that I am a devoted wife and mother because I've trained them well. They think it's perfectly reasonable for a mother to shut herself up in an office for days on end, or for a wife to take herself away to the cottage for weeks at a time because she has a book to finish.
All three of them also know enough to stop in at every bookstore they pass to see if my mighty tomes are there, and to ensure that the little darlings are not sitting spine-out on the shelf. This takes time and dedication, and I am grateful every time they report back from a successful mission. But the more I think about this, the clearer it becomes that every part of my life has, for years, been tied somehow to the writing. I'm always between the pages.
When I'm reading that paper, I'm not simply catching up on what's going on in the world. I'm storing tiny nuggets of trivia or human nature which, if mined properly, may one day offer up a new story, or a different direction for a current one.
When I'm out with friends, enjoying their company and a glass of wine, I find myself shamelessly eavesdropping on the conversation at the table behind me. Or noticing something in the waiter that reminds me of a character in my work-in-progress. Or watching the young woman across the aisle and wondering what's happened to make her glance at the man sharing her table her so furtive, the line between her eyebrows so very deep. Always drifting away from the moment I'm in because the writer in me never shuts off.
Even in the shower, the answer to a question I've been wrestling with at the computer will come to me in a blinding flash. Then it's drip, drip, drip, down the stairs to the computer. Those same sudden answers will come when I'm driving, or loading the dishwasher, or worst of all, when my husband is telling me about something that happened at work that day. After these many years, he recognizes the signs. I may be nodding and murmuring encouraging words, but my mind is somewhere else, with people that don't exist, thinking about things that never happened. My life is not a fiction, but fiction is my life. Fiction is what drives me, what makes my heart pound when a character reveals something I hadn't known before, and my fingers twitch if a keyboard or notebook or voice activated recorder is not within reach.
I blame my mother. I grew up, after all, in an era before playdates and nursery school, a time when your mother would put you outside to play and then lock the door. She had a house to clean and you had a swingset and a sandbox. At the age of three, what more did you need? You now had two choices - cry at the door for an hour or find a way to amuse yourself. Being resourceful, I amused myself with an imaginary friend and my mother humoured me, making room for Susy at the dinner table, and telling my sister to make room in the bed that we shared for this same imaginary girl.
When my mother finally figured I was old enough to be set loose on the street, the imaginary friend disappeared, but the imagination was there to stay. I made up stories about everything, including one doozy about my grandmother's untimely death, which brought the neighbours to the door with casseroles and cakes. Yet my mother never called me a liar, never tried to dampen the story-telling spirit in her youngest child. She simply explained again and again the difference between what was real, and what was imagination until I finally understood: imagination went on paper - real life just went on.
Maybe that's why I spend so much time between the pages. Fiction allows me to feed that over-active imagination and the natural curiosity that comes with it in a way that real life never does. When I'm researching a book, I have a reason to squeeze through the locked gate of an abandoned old house so I can peek in the windows, or ask my doctor about the feasability of a murder I'm working on, or call up a perfect stranger who happens to work in the same field as my character, and talk my way into spending a couple of days with her so that I get the details of her workday right. This is not a new phenomenon. My kids remember plenty of Adventures With Mom that sometimes landed us in some strange and scary spots, but were always fun and food for another story.
I love writing. Always have. It's who I am, it's what I do. And if the time comes when no one wants to buy what I'm selling, I'll still write, putting words on the page as long as that imagination is alive and well. I know I'm lucky to have a family that understands and loves that about me, because I don't know how the story would have turned out if they'd been written differently.
Lynda is a writer and college instructor. Her novels, Getting Rid of Rosie and Island Girl, are must-reads for your book club.
Learn more about Lynda at LyndaSimmons.com.
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