If you already know Ellen Meister, I’m sure, like me, you consider yourself lucky. She is warm, witty, brilliant, beautiful, AND she’s a kick ass wife, mother, and writer to boot.
On top of all of this, Ellen is through and through lovable and so, my friends, this week (a very special week in the life of Ellen Meister and those who love her), I invite you to celebrate with me the woman and writer who is Ellen Meister.
Each day I will share with you a question and answer between Ellen and me, followed by a link to one of her stories.
I also invite you to get on over to whichever bookstore you fancy and get yourself a copy of her debut novel (released on August 1, 2006!): Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA
Let’s get started…
Q & A
MC: Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote—that thing that gave you a funny tickle inside and made you say, “Ah ha! THIS is what I want to do”? If so, what was it? Or when was that moment—when you knew that writing was the thing for you?
EM: First off, before I even answer, I want to think you for doing this, Myf! You’re the most wonderful and supportive friend imaginable. I hope I don’t bore your loyal readers!
So anyway, to answer your question, it was my senior year of high school. I had already applied to college and been accepted into a theater program, thinking I wanted to be an actress. But one day my English teacher gave us a writing assignment, and I turned in a scene I wrote between two characters in a coffee shop. Looking back, I realize it probably wasn’t very good—the setting was trite, at very least—but the characters were real to me, and I could actually hear their voices. I was excited about it, but still not prepared for the reaction from my teacher, an arrogant, affected man who shaved his head when no one shaved their heads, smoked cigarettes in long black holders, and never quite liked me. And yet, he gave me an A on this piece and made the comment that I had a natural ear for dialogue. When I read that I thought, “Yes, I do!” For an immensely insecure kid who never thought she was very good at anything, it was a heady moment. In that second everything changed. I wasn’t going to act, I was going to write. It felt like fate, like what I was supposed to be doing all along. There were no second thoughts. I changed my major to English and that was it.
Alas, I’m procrastinator by nature. And so even though it was my dream to write fiction, it took me years and years to finally get serious about it. I wrote a bit in college, but once I graduated, I pursued a marketing career and became a professional copywriter. It was excellent training (I learned to make my point fast), but allowed me to tell myself I was just too busy to pursue my dreams. And then I had kids and learned a whole new definition for “busy.” But one day I woke up and mortality fears bitch-slapped me into finding the time in my day to make it happen. And so, I became a real writer by waking up at five o’clock in the morning and getting chapters written while the children slept. Two years later, I had a full manuscript I called George Clooney is Coming to Applewood. As you know, the title was later changed to SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA.
Ellen will knock your socks off with her tender honesty in this piece (warning: keep your tissues handy!):