By Judy Brandon: Local columnist
I talked to a young mother the other day with sick children, and it reminded me of those days when our three were small. Specifically I think back to 1977, a few months after Buffy was born. It was the time that Annie and John Scott had chicken pox, and Buffy was breaking out. My days were consumed with sick children … fever medication, ointment, little sleep at night. Each new day seemed to offer only another lonely vigil.
On this particular day, I remember sitting at our kitchen table, feeling exhausted and sorry for myself. The house was a mess, and I had no energy to tackle it. Buffy was feverish and cranky. Feeling overwhelmed, I sat at the table and sobbed. The thought of this daily, mundane routine going on just frustrated me. Besides, I didn’t want the children to be sick.
I was far from what I had thought would be a really different life. I had finished college and taught school for two years. My mental images of staying home were of moms and kids baking cookies in clean kitchens, station wagons loaded with children and dogs headed for a romp in the park! My situation was far from that.
On that day, I had a good cry; then got my old typewriter from the closet. With Buffy on my lap and Annie and John Scott watching “Sesame Street,” I began to type. I wrote of a mother trying just to keep up, all the while wondering if she was making any headway — at home or in life. When finished, I read it again. To my surprise, it made sense. I even thought it was good.
Then I thought of magazines and printed articles and poems just for mothers. I was familiar with the words, “Unsolicited manuscripts will be considered if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope.” It would be exciting to send my work in I thought.
“They will never buy it,” I thought, “but at least I would get mail back.”
I typed a letter, self-addressed an envelope and enclosed it with my poem. I was suddenly excited! I can’t explain it to this day, but when I put that envelope in the mailbox, a change came over me. My outlook became positive. Back home, I viewed my surroundings with a changed perspective. I straightened the house, cooked dinner and read to the children.
Weeks passed before the mailman brought an envelope addressed to me in my own handwriting. I was prepared for rejection, but when I opened the letter, out fell a check for $8! The letter read:
“Congratulations, Mrs. Brandon. We have considered your poem and bought it for the amount enclosed. Your work will be published in two months!” I was so excited, I squealed! I announced to the children that we would go for ice cream. We had a great time.
From that day on, I kept the typewriter hot and now my computer. Years later, I could paper a wall with rejection slips but some pieces have sold.
The rewards have been in another way.
It all started that day I cried in the kitchen. I cannot explain what prompted me to get up and write, to do something to make my circumstances different. Abraham Maslow, the famous psychologist, might say it was “self-actualization.” Others might suspect I finally had gotten in touch with my “inner self.”
But I know it was God seeing me through, helping me to write things from my heart. That is enough explanation for me.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: