I am 65. At sixteen I wrote my first book. It was 30,000 words and was entitled Balboa is Full of Beginners. I still have the book typed on what is now yellowing paper (although then pristine white) on the orange-cased Smith Corona typewriter that my sister had handed down after she'd finished nursing school and got married. I've reread it recently and it is in a wonderful authentic teenage voice connecting what I wished my sixteenth summer could have been and my angst at how it was not so. The characters are fairly fleshed out and the plot is surprisingly developed. I wonder how I can weave it into a new book with the characters now facing medicare. After that book there were three others written in my 20's, and then a gap of book writing, but writing that explored (poetry, and essays), and suited a particular purpose (school writing, dissertation writing). But always, writing. Then came the memoir in my 50's and 60's, and a fiction book about a baseball player in my 60's, and a current historical novel in progress. And from 16 to 65 my writing (except for one short story) has been unpublished, sitting in drawers, occupying hard drive space. As private to the world at large as my journals. To be a writer, I somehow thought, meant being on a best seller list or at least available at Amazon. I could not reach my lofty goals. An MFA later, writing conferences later, a women's retreat at Ghost Ranch later, and a lot of thinking and reflecting and journaling and revising, and somehow it all is beginning to come together. I write therefore I am a writer. And, it's about time that I open the vaults and put it out there. I am ready. I am still looking for an agent and wondering how I will get my books, particularly the one above that, I think, can help others who have lost a parent when they were children, available in print. But I have found a way, imperfect though it may be, to validate myself as a writer. Although it's a bit of a challenge to do, (formatting is a bitch and requires tons of patience) e publishing offers me possibilities. Get rich possibilities? No. But possibilities that nurture me, the creative me. The me who cannot help but tell the stories in writing, the stories that need time to evolve into a story. I often say when I try to speak a story that I am a much better writer. Likely has something to do with some issue from my childhood, akin to me not thinking I can sing at all. I sing. I do it best in my car or house when I'm alone. I won't be singing in public anytime soon, but my writing is now public. I am still savoring how it makes me feel when I see my name on the book jacket. For now googling the title and seeing it in the world is enough for me to understand--- I wrote that, world. I am a writer. Amen.