Your Book Social Media Profile Awaits
In 1999 after 14 years of marriage, my second marriage ended in divorce. In 2008, I decided it was time to honor a lifelong dream and write a book, something my ex-husband refused to allow me to do – he saw my time spent writing as time spent neglecting him. I sent a brief synopsis to family and friends and their reactions were typically blunt: “It sounds like the same old sob story!” “Some things just don't need to be said!” My family's reaction to my entire life was always typically blunt. But, at the age of 54, my life started falling apart. I became weakened by their negativity, yet, I saw an opportunity when others couldn't. I decided to honor hardship – the dark period.
Four years prior, I needed hip replacement, my employer laid me off shortly after the surgery. Having exhausted several weeks of unemployment and still on crutches, I couldn't find employment. Food was scarce, electricity shut off, I couldn't afford medication nor the physical therapy I badly needed. I was constantly peeking out windows fearing the landlord, as I couldn't pay my full rent. At that time, my only income was a small monthly retirement check from employment with an Insurance company for some 23 years.
To add to my responsibilities, I had my 22 year old unemployed son and his newborn son living with me. I applied for Social Security Disability. My battle with the landlord raged on for six months. I wasn't paying the full rent but, the house I was renting was a disgrace, and the landlord refused to repair anything. Most of the kitchen appliances did not work – only one burner on the stove and the refrigerator operated sometimes. Sewage filled the bathtub and sink. The toilet did not flush, so we had to dig the sewage out by hand and dump it into the trash. I was hospitalized twice with Mercer due to my filthy environment. The carpeting was so dry rotted that dust flew up if something was dropped on the floor and black trash bags hung at the windows for curtains.
We were served with an eviction notice. The only thing I had was a vehicle I hadn't made payments on for six months, a few articles of clothing, a post office box for my mail and $408.00 a month. We parked in front of the Health Department and lived inside my car. The whole time I continued to write in the notebooks I'd purchase from time to time because I knew my horizons were expansive. Sitting in that car, I realized my life hadn't ever been easy. Memories poured out onto the pages of my notebooks, memories I fictionalized, expanded upon and dreamed of being a caution to other young women some day. One day, I checked my post office box and there lay my first Social Security Disability Check.
After receiving that check, I headed to the nearest place where we could live considering we had no furniture, kitchen supplies or time to search for a place to rent. Dealing with Security Deposits, turning on lights and water and all those things needed to rent a place - my nerves were not able to deal with. We moved into The Putnam Hotel. The Putnam was an old relic of a building that was rumored to be haunted. Unfortunately, the residents were mostly drug addicts and homeless people placed there for a few days by Social Services. The rent was paid on a weekly basis, so for many of the residents it was a revolving door.
Family members had their noses in the air, as they found living in the Putnam Hotel to be the most disgusting of things to do. But, to us it was a palace! We had furniture, running water, a toilet that flushed and television. I had a kitchen to cook in, with all of the appliances working – It was home. I could have spent my time feeling sorry for myself, as they seemed to think was necessary. But I began to count my blessings. The weirdest thing was our apartment 313 was known to be the most haunted space in the hotel!
I visited a local Thrift Shop called Our Father's Closet in search of a computer. In a spans of three months I found all of the pieces of a desk top and my son connected everything together. I now had a word program to write my book. I stayed in touch with the world via Face book using a cell phone. While my Grandson ran around in diapers, my son ran the streets – I wrote. Writing my book was my comfort, my piece of mind, my escape. When reaching writer's block – I'd pray. I'd pray deeply, intensely and with belief and trust and every time the answer would come to me in my sleep. I'd jump up immediately and sit at the computer.
Writing my book brought me closer to my own spirituality. Closer to GOD. I knew there wasn't a ghost anywhere that would bother me, and in spite of the occasional documentaries, crews and cameras that visited the hotel to do ghostly research – I never saw anything. My mind and body would not accept it. Life, for me, was meant to be a series of challenges that I had to overcome. The messiness, the difficult conversations, the hard work, the discipline, acting boldly when I didn’t feel like it was part of the deal. I didn't pray that God remove the obstacles, I prayed that he give me the strength to overcome them and finish my book.
A bumpy start. Yes. There were setbacks at every turn. Often a piece of the old discarded computer would break down, devastating me, and I would hunt until I found another piece. Often I'd loose everything I'd written and have to start over, but after days of tears, I saw it as a sign that it needed rewriting. The most bitter experience was the nasty feedback I received from family over Face book. If I wrote about the beautiful sounds of the birds in the trees outside my window, they responded with how crazy I was, how delusional I was, how I wasn't facing the reality of the horrible place in which I lived. Those were really bitter times for me. But those bad experiences left me more determined.
I needed a printer. No printers existed for the ancient desk top computer I was using, but my brother who lived in Michigan scoured the papers until he found someone selling exactly what I needed, and he sent it to me. I began to write and send out my query letters, discovering I was lousy at writing queries and even worse at writing synopsis. I was rejected 50 times.
We moved on. My manuscript laid on a shelf until 2014. The door had shut in my face. The support of my step-sister who, other than my brother, kept encouraging me to stay with my book, led me to blow off the dust and self publish. Another door opened. Throughout life you can lose a battle but not a war. Although my sales are small, “To Dance with Ugly People,” kindle version reached #1 on the Amazon Best Seller List for African-American Fiction in the U.K. - My vision is alive, My journey hasn't been an easy one, but I know I will prove, someday, there are opportunities in hardship.
Life can be an ongoing war with many fierce battles; I have not won every battle, yet. However I am determined not to lose this war. I will not let that battle hold me back from succeeding through life. My dream is alive to become an accomplished Author!