May 8, 2010
By Christine Thackeray
My mother was Jaroldeen Edwards. She was a writer, an entertainer and an artist. She loved to "collect" interesting characters both in real life and in her mind. She loved to tell stories and could entertain us for hours in the car, and sometimes I'd think she only had twelve children so she could have a complete, captured audience. She was so loving and passionate it was a true rarity which I didn't learn to appreciate until I realized the rest of the world wasn't that way.
When my youngest sister started kindergarten my mother pulled out her typewriter and begin to type her first manuscript, but she was also a woman of discipline. She never worked on her stories when we were home and never talked very much about her work to us at all. In high school I had to BEG her to be allowed to read her manuscript which was flawless.
During that time she had four national releases "A Woman Between", "Wildflower", "Mountains of Eden" and "Harvest of Dreams." Her last hit the dreaded mid-list and although she wrote two other manuscripts, one of which was brilliant on the banking crisis and the other a journal of the old rancheros in southern California, neither sold. She did three romances to Deseret Book "The Chaldean Star", "Falcon Heart", and "Hannah: Mormon Midwife." Then she was struck by a car. Through the struggle of healing came "Celebration!" and her last project "Things I Wish I'd Known Sooner" which was first published by Deseret and then went national to Simon & Schuster.
I never wondered why my mother wrote because it was part of her, like the way she laughed or did her hair.
In comparison to my mother, I've always felt like a shadow. I don't think that's a reflection of my low self-esteem but of the vivid originality of my incredible mother. I don't think I planned on "following in her footsteps" but one conversation with my father has haunted me lately.
We were walking together one Saturday and out of the blue my Daddy, a very serious businessman, turned to me and said, "I don't know why people are so enamoured with mother's writing career because it hasn't made any money to speak of. The first books were not even at the wage of a school teacher and her LDS releases have profits that are nothing but a small stipend." Then her turned to me and said, "You need to be realistic. Writing will never be a viable career for you."
I remember looking him like he was crazy because at the time I'd never considered writing. As a matter of fact the events that brought me where I am today were so convoluted, I truly felt guided to this industry and at last am enjoying expressing myself in this artistic form.
Yesterday I was unpacking a box from the garage (we recently moved) and I found an old journal from the last weeks of my mission. It was the day before transfers and we had been told the area was closing. We had already visited all our contacts and had the afternoon free. As I began reading my musings of what I'd do when I went home and how I wanted my life to proceed, I flipped through page after page. In that single afternoon I filled over thirty pages. Putting down the book, I thought about dating my husband. I began seeing him in an effort to make another beau jealous and found myself in a real pickle when I fell in love with someone I was simply "using." I wrote hundreds of pages at the time, trying to work out my feelings and talk myself out of falling for the humble rancher-turned-engineer, as opposed to the brilliant wealthy metro-man I thought I had wanted.
Putting down the journal, I got why my father had said those words to me all those years ago. Like my mother, I'm a writer. It's what I am. I can tamp it down but it won't change the fact that there is something in me that longs to express emotion through story, to illustrate truth through symbol and the written word, to reach beyond reality and share what is whizzing through my crazed mind.
Mother was one. Daddy recognized the seed in me and now it's up to me to decide how to use this talent and move forward. It's a change for me to think this is what I am versus this is what I do. The older I get the more I see that our talents and gifts are often not of our own chosing. They are bestowed on us, and we have a responsibility to use them. This totally changed my motivation.
Okay, so this is a whole new idea for me. Did you already know it?