Friday, September 8, 2017

A Writing Journey by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the amazing debut anthology of Caitlin Hamilton Summie.  Here's a brief piece about her journey as a writer:

I started “writing” when I was small. My mother tells me that I’d bring stories to her to read, scribbles across a page, before I even knew how to actually form letters, so she’d ask me to “read” my stories to her.

I was a storyteller even then, and even at that age I was always taken seriously by my parents. No condescension, no laughter.

I remembered their treatment when I stepped in to teach my first and only college class, a semester of creative writing. I’d been told not to expect much from my students, but I knew how I had been once. On my first day in class, I began by asking, “How many of you have written a novel?” Three hands shot up.

Family support is so critical to the budding artist. Institutional respect is as well.

Given the respect I received from my parents, it’s no great leap to see the rest: the novella at age 13, two novels completed before age 18. Perhaps the greatest leap then is the first book at age 48, pleasantly late.

But so much in my life has been late. Among the last to be married. Mother at 37. I seem to squeak in under the wire. The stories in my collection, some written as along ago as 1992 and taken out to be dusted off and tweaked, have been waiting for their moment to emerge to the public.

Maybe the story of my publishing journey will give other yet-to-be-published writers hope. Maybe it will remind teachers not to assume. Maybe it will remind parents how important it is to simply support.

Some things are worth waiting for. My whole family is celebrating my first book with me, not only my mother and my father, but also my husband and my son and my daughter, all of whom, like me, waited, hoping. I still remember the look on my son’s face when I announced I had had a short story accepted. Was it relief? I believe so. I remember the small smile of pride on my husband’s face when he realized my book had been accepted. I still remember the way my young daughter listened with great seriousness and yes, respect, as I talked about my writing. She knew I was entrusting a hope to her.

On publication date, oh, our celebration will be joyous. 

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