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How I got here and why it matters by Carol Doane

When I learned to write complete sentences I had one goal, to write a book.

Somewhere in the youthful march through grade school, in some secret place long forgotten, is the book I started. I was seven-years old.

I wrote prose, neatly in pencil, on blue lined notebook paper and added tiny illustrations at the top of my chapters. I drew my brother's birthday, bunny cake that celebrated his arrival at the terrible twos with frosting smeared onto his nose by my mother before she took his picture — with a film camera.

I wrote about my uncle's visit from the distant country of Texas.

I wrote about the way the world hurt and how small I felt.

As I raced through school and ploughed down the writing path, I wrote stories and essays that high school teachers returned, scratched with red grammar corrections and tantalizing notes, such as, "This would make a good book."

When I graduated college, my reward was to take a break, stop writing, and read what I wanted to read, not something assigned. I set my pen aside and indulged myself with forgettable novels.

That pen would not be denied and danced on the outskirts of the place I now inhabited, work. I existed in a world of, to use the phrase one of my friends coined, pale, stale, males. I wrestled with the concept of unequal pay, complained bitterly to no avail and turned my energy into writing inspired ad copy and cool campaign concepts that helped hundreds of advertising clients improve their visibility in the marketplace and their sales.

I won a few advertising awards.

By this time the keyboards was mightier than the pen, so I pounded the console of my Macintosh, and plunked out epics that entertained friends and family about us, and made whatever had happened to us feel grander and more exciting than what had actually happened.

I organized a book club, I called Lit Club, and I wanted it to meet at the same place, everytime: my place. My friends, from the advertising department, thought it should move around. It moved around, got disorganized and disappeared.

I assuaged my disappointment with the knowledge that I was right. Same time, same place was the key to keeping a group focused.

I turned my focus on the office, and had an opinion about everything. Management sucked. Commissions sucked. The system sucked. And I knew how to fix it. But no one wanted me to fix anything. So, to gain  credibility I went to night school to get an AA in Management, because two BA's from a private college, and a year of study in Europe, in a second language, impressed no one at a newspaper, at least not when you are a girl.

I kept at that job, and kept applying for a management position. I realized the advertising world was changing and I should too. I taught myself html with the help of the guys in IT, who I peppered with hundreds of questions. My kid pulled me into social media — she set up my Facebook profile and a Facebook Page, and away we went, learning and exploring online.

"Suddenly," twenty years into my career, the newspaper gave me a shot as a supervisor. The economy crashed and the newspaper nosedived into Chapter 11, me leading the charge. By day, I worked to pull the company out of bankruptcy. By night, I headed for the relief of fiction.

That book I wanted to write, when I was seven, still crept through the back halls of my mind. And yes, I did construct a manuscript in manic sessions. The manuscript emerged, not about me at all, and a little off kilter. I attended weekend workshops, seminars and conferences to figure out how to right that ship.

Along the way, I took a college class and connected with other writers and we formed a critique group. We met at the same time at the same place and we lasted for seven years. Then our writer-hostess died and part of us died, too.
No one has to clean house if we meet here.
I don't think we'll ever solve the equal pay equation, but we can work at level the playing field. I threw my energy into creating a nonprofit, Woman of Wonder, and threw myself into exhausting tasks like fundraising to give women a chance to finish their college degrees. I secured office space for the nonprofit and got an idea. I gathered the remnants of our critique group and said, "No one has to clean house if we meet here."

So, we write. We meet. We critique. And I read.

Oh, and I critique what I'm reading on Book Convos, with the hope that the day I'm published all this energy, life experience, and adventure will find its way into your hands, your Kindle, your Paperwhite, your Nook as a book, and you can critique me.

Because together all of that stuff matters.

Contact me here:
Facebook: CarolDoaneAuthor
Twitter: TheClassicCarol
Instagram: CarolDoane

Donate to women's education here: Woman of Wonder 501(c)(3)


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