Brody: Destined to be a writer

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, March 27, 2018

am a writer, at least I think of myself that way. It is what I’m made of. It’s how I think and how I view the world.

When I am no longer able — physically or mentally — to write what I find inside my soul and brain, I honestly am afraid I will be empty and unable to stay focused.

When I was almost 4 years old, I became very ill with colitis and rheumatic fever. My days of running and rough-housing with my little friends came to an abrupt halt. To keep me quiet and in bed, my mother read books to me all of the time.

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One day, I asked her to get me some paper and pencils. I was tired of all the familiar books. I wanted to write my own.

She did this and my destiny was set.

The thing was, the rheumatic fever weakened my heart to the point I realized I could never do sports or run distances like my friends. But by the time I hit high school, I saw I could dance, play piano and be a fairly good student.

Of course, my favorite courses even then were creative writing and journalism. I had also discovered music. Writing and music filled me up, and brought me peace and joy that are still true today.

I went to Washington University and was the first female to earn a degree in journalism there. Of course, that was in 1948. Today, it almost seems like more women than men have gone into that profession.

When I was 19, I wrote a prose piece and kept it private. I wanted so much to submit it to a national magazine but was terrified. It felt if it was rejected, it would be rejecting me and my thoughts personally. Praise God, the editor liked it and bought it. I have never looked back.

During the years after college I married, had and raised four precious children, divorced and worked on my writing for “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. I wrote stories for 19 of them and edited a few.

Then I met and married the love of my life, Gene. All my kids were either still in or finished with college so I returned to graduate school and was certified to teach literature interpretation, English and creative writing. I adored being a classroom teacher.

I wrote my first book and was published several years after marrying Gene. In 1990, I landed a lifetime job writing for newspapers. I have continued this weekly column for the past 28 years.

Forgive me. I did not intend to do an autobiography here, but it was the simplest way to show how I guess I was born with a writer gene or else God just knew to direct me after my heart problems at such an early age.

I have, at times, looked at a newborn baby, including my own four, I mean really looked at them. I looked into their eyes and I would try and slip behind their eyes. What’s back there?

Do babies already know who they are and what their passions will be?

Is it possible fate arranges that little new life so what that child is put here to do falls into place? I don’t know how it all works, but had I not gotten so ill at age 4, maybe I’d have been a great athlete or would have discovered a cure for cancer or worked at McDonalds.

But I write. Sometimes I’m not very good. At times, I can’t even put together a story with the right elements.

Yet, sometimes I like what I write and it gives me great satisfaction. Luckily, I have three editors who edit and approve my work every single week for the past 28 years, thank goodness.

All I know today is I’m a writer and as long as I can hold this red and white ballpoint pen and make it say for me on paper what I need to share, I will always call myself a writer.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.