The Autobiographical Letter

This is a DRAFT of an INFORMAL autobiographical letter to introduce myself to someone I am going to be writing for.
It's hard to sum up ones past and aspirations in the mandatory two to three pages but this is what I have so far.

THE ALMOST FINAL DRAFT

Dear Ms.

It seems funny being asked to talk about myself. Reflecting on your past experiences and writing them for someone else is a bit awkward. I suppose that is because although my life has been filled with many experiences, the vast majority of them don’t seem like ones that someone else would be all that interested in. I guess the best thing to do in situations like this is to start at the beginning and work your way forward. So that is what I intend to do.

My parents, Kathleen and Salvatore, didn’t want my sister and me growing up in the cities surrounding Newark, New Jersey. So after my younger sister’s birth they packed everything they had and moved to Florida. They settled in the small, very remote, town of Shady Hills. Soon after our family started a small animal farm; raising mostly chickens and ducks.  However we did have one ornery old pony named Frosty. Our new life was quite interesting and two or three times a day my mother would run out into the yard and gather us up so the wild boar running past wouldn’t trample us to death.

As time went on my mother graduated college, became a registered nurse and continued working at a not so local hospital. While my father traveled the country playing the drums and saxophone in a 50’s and 60’s band, my sister and I attended the only elementary school in the area and lived a modest country existence. The family continued in the same pattern until right around 1984. It was then that my father decided he was missing too much of our childhood came in off the road. He got a job and started working locally as a carpenter.

We lead a simple life, spent time as a family and were visited twice a year by our extended relatives, every summer and every Christmas. Eventually both sets of grandparents and all my aunts and uncles also moved to Florida and purchased residences within an half an hour from each other. To say our family is close would be an understatement.

In 1990 I experienced one of my grandest achievements, the birth of my daughter, Megan. Although it was just the two of us with the help and support of our large family we made it through. I graduated from high school soon after and began attending Pasco Hernando Community College, where I also worked in a secretarial position for the Dean of Student Services.  Those years were pretty monotonous; it’s hard to find happiness in doing the same thing every day.

In 1994 with community college behind me I moved on to The University of South Florida. I set high expectations for myself, desiring a dual major of Criminology and Psychology and a minor in Occult Religious Studies. My ultimate goal was to counsel juvenile delinquents. My life was very busy and it was often difficult to make time for friends. However because I was raised in such a small town most of the people I went to elementary school with went to the same middle school and high school.  When it was time to move to on to college those that had stayed in the area went to the same community college I did and moved on much like I had to the same university. 

The university offered a more diverse group of people and the opportunity to make some new friends. But none were as close to me as the ones I grew up with. Even though work and classes often made it impossible for me to spend large amounts of time with them, our friendship remained strong. Time has taken our lives in different directions but we have remained in contact through the years, sharing our accomplishments, pictures of our families, venting our frustrations and generally caring for each other.

My relationships with the opposite sex, from high school through college were nothing short of disastrous. I was ready to settle down and was actively looking for someone who wanted to do the same. What I found instead was a number of people intent on telling me what I wanted to hear. I’ve dated all types; the unmotivated, the unkind, simple trouble makers, and even a bad boy, who I later discovered was wanted by the FBI.

But then as fate would have it one of my old friends from high school returned home for a visit. We dated for a year and after numerous flights to and from Pompano Beach, we decided to marry. So in 1995 that’s what we did. It lasted three years, if you count all the time it takes to get divorced these days. I won’t get into all the details of that, except to tell you that the divorce wasn’t my choice. People who aren’t ready to get married shouldn’t try and play house and if you’re going to look elsewhere, do your partner a favor and cut them loose first.

At the same time all of that was going on I got really sick. Doctors couldn’t figure out why and tested me for everything from Lupus to Multiple Sclerosis. I couldn’t eat and eventually weighed less than 80 lbs. There was no denying if they didn’t get the disease under control I was on my way out. The whole process took about a year from start to finish. After signing up to be a lab rat, taking intensive steroid therapy and a host of experimental drugs that didn’t even have names yet, just numbers, they finally gave me a diagnosis. The specialist sat me down and told me I had Crohn’s Disease coupled with Avascular Necrosis. He said it triumphantly as if definitively giving it a name was a good thing. But it was just a label for something I’d already been dealing with for a year. What it was called meant nothing to me; I knew firsthand what it was capable of and it was out to get me.

I met my current husband online through AOL instant messenger in 1999.  Don had two boys from a previous marriage that didn’t live with him and was really excepting of my daughter Megan.  We spent time at the beach, fishing from the pier, going to the park, going to aquariums, and visiting the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs. He didn’t seem to mind that my body was so wrecked by physical ailments. When I could no longer walk, we just found something else to occupy our time that I could do. The man is constantly telling me to sit down and take it easy, even when I don’t need to. It’s usually during that time of the day that I either read or write.

I am a consumer of books; there is certainly no doubt about that. I have cupboards of them and have no trouble telling you that over three quarters of them are middle grade fantasy fiction. Some of my favorites from the collection are Angie Sage’s - Septimus Heap, Eoin Colfer’s - Artemis Fowl, Michael Scott’s - The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Mark Scott’s - Krystonia, Rick Riordan’s last two series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus, Debra Pratt’s - The Vision Quest, C.S. Lewis’s - The Chronicles of Narnia, and of course J.K. Rowling’s - Harry Potter. 

J.R.R. Tolkien’s - The Hobbit is also fantastic; however the Lord of the Rings Trilogy may be a bit too advanced for the readers I would like to write for.  Authors David and Leigh Eddings made an incredible team. In high school I could have easily said they were my favorite authors. I have read almost everything they’ve ever had published and each of these works is contained in my private collection. But they also write in a manner I would consider too advanced for my potential target audience.

I guess the next logical question is what do I want to write?  I’d like to write what I love to read. I see myself writing middle grade fantasy fiction and works that bridge the gap into the young adult category. I feel that I can to learn to create believable characters and engage a young mind while telling a story that children age eight to fourteen can relate to in approximately 200 to 300 pages. Without beating them over the head with morals and values or writing in a manner they would feel was condescending.

Don and I have five children. All of them are avid readers and each of them like to either draw or write their own stories. If there is something they have taught me about the success of books, it is that kids are intelligent. They will quickly toss aside a written work that doesn’t challenge them intellectually or makes them feel second rate.

With so many topics and themes to write about, writing a book for the already flooded fantasy fiction market may not be the wisest decision when considering my chances of publication. I know this; however, I have experienced enough "real life" to know that is not what I want to write about. If I’m going to spend a year or maybe two engrossed in writing, I want it to be about something I enjoy. I want to escape to a magical world, a distant planet, another period of history, or a location I’ve never experienced before. Something other than what I deal with everyday, and I think children feel this way too. As a society we put so much responsibility on them so fast they never get the opportunity to experience childhood in the same way we did. Why wouldn’t they want to evade their obligations and venture into the pages of a book, where the main character makes them feel like they have some amount of power over their lives?

Previously I mentioned we have five children. I have already told you about Megan (21) and my two step sons Jay (18) and Donald (14). Who I haven’t already introduced you too are our twins Selena (11) and Sabrina (11). Back in 1999 doctors told Don and I that due to my illness having children together was impossible. Well, let me go on record here as saying physicians "practice" medicine and although practice makes perfect in this case they were dead wrong. Not only could we have children but we could have them two at a time. 

The girls however did not arrive without complication, both are high functioning autistic. To meet them briefly on a good day most people don’t notice thanks to years of intensive therapy. Their physician says their disorder stems from being twins and having their own language as toddlers. But as you can guess I don’t put much stock in what doctors have to say. I prefer to do my own research on twins and autism. I wrote an article for an online magazine a year or two after the girls were born. I can’t remember the name of the magazine but they did publish the article. It was entitled Twins Fact or Fiction?

Stubbornness runs rampant in this family, if you tell us we can’t we will set out on a mission to prove you wrong.  It works out well for us. I am still here. My son Jay is on his way to University of South Florida this year with a full scholarship and this year the twins have been moved to mainstream classes, they are doing main stream work and are also honors students. We’re very proud of them.

I have not worked outside the home since 1997. The four jobs I held in my less than interesting career have all been secretarial positions and the last two were short-lived due to additional medical complications. 

Even though I don’t work outside the home there has been plenty of enough "work" in the home to keep me occupied. In the years after the twins were born I wore the unofficial hats of therapist, teacher, researcher, school volunteer and disability advocate. I studied both education law and techniques to further educational achievement. I attended seminars and conferences about these issues and spoke regularly to other parents and community members about the issues that disabled children face.

Now that my children are older and more self sufficient I have made some attempts to carve out time for things that center around me. I work in the office of my husband’s trim carpentry business, design websites, make greeting cards, garden and work on our small animal farm. I also went back to college for two years and graduated with a degree as a Web Development Specialist in December of 2010.

About six months ago I started writing again but not consistently. Then this past January I found a blog entitled Daily Writing Practice. It felt good to be writing again and so every day without fail I have completed the daily prompt.  Most days I post my responses to my blog The Power of Words on Paper. Other days I’ll write on Protagonize or spend time reading the works of other writers. So there you have it, a summary of my existence in three pages. As I said before, throughout my life I’ve had many experiences, some good, some bad, most fairly common place and none particularly fascinating.

The End

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