By age 5, I’d begun readying myself to be a writer. I’d sit at an imaginary desk and play like I was scrawling something. No one in my family wrote anything other than thank you cards. So I don’t know what I thought I was writing or why I was more enamored with pencils and paper than toys and television. But such was the case.
When I won a junior high school essay contest, it occurred to me that I might have a knack for writing. If so, I directed most of that talent into penning love letters. My classmates would tell me what they wanted to say to their sweethearts, and I’d spiff it up a bit and give them a draft that they could copy in their own handwriting.
When it came to romances, mine was the only one I didn’t manage well. A teen pregnancy shortchanged my education, causing me to all but give up on the idea of ever becoming a writer. But I kept writing in journals, chronicling my thoughts, hoping these musings might one day show me how and why I’d strayed off course.
After not one, but two failed marriages, I finished college and decided to concentrate on the love I’d abandoned in high school: writing for others. That decision sent me back to college, this time to take fiction writing classes.
All went well until I was kicked out of my third course.
My instructor said he didn’t want to see my face again. “Why are you STILL here?” He huffed. “Get out there and publish what you’ve already written.”
I left that professor’s instruction…and moved to a different university.
Meanwhile, I married my current husband of 22 years. As newlyweds, we vacationed in a tranquil, tropical destination. And it was there, in the village of Akumal, Mexico, that I received a command I couldn’t ignore.
I dozed off, one night, to the sounds of ocean waves lapping just beyond our condo door. Though I don’t remember what I was dreaming at the time, my subconscious world was interrupted by a loud beckoning.
“Diana,” a male voice called out to me.
Intuitively, I knew that vocalization could have come from only one source. I was frightened, but I answered, “Yes?”
“You’re supposed to be writing a book,” The Voice said.
Now, I don’t think He meant I was supposed to be writing, right then, during my sleep. I understood this to mean I wasn’t writing as I’d been previously directed.
I looked around and saw no one, yet I sensed this entity remained present.
Like a misbehaving child, I argued, “Yes, I know. But you haven’t told me what the book is supposed to be about.” I mean, good grief, He’d given Moses the Ten Commandments. I was waiting for something equivalent.
There was no sound of irritation when The Voice (and no, I’m not talking about the TV show by the same name) next spoke. “You’re supposed to write about your younger years. Go back to when you were a teenager,” He said.
I needed specifics. “What about when I was a teenager?”
“Go back and revisit all that you’ve experienced. You’ll find your answers there,” said The Voice.
And then I woke up.
I was angry at the sunlight filtering into the bedroom. How dare it lure me into consciousness before I’d received full direction!
The year was 1992, and that dream haunted me every day thereafter, until, finally, in 1998, I began writing the first draft of what would later become When Horses Had Wings.
So why did it take me fourteen years to complete the book? Ah, well, that’s another blog post! But I promise to answer that question.