If you happened to read my post [here] on Great Projects Afoot, you might have thought I'd forgotten all about a life project by now, one that would help me again look at the glass not only as half-full but full of sparkling fizz and pink bubbles.
Or did you think I was now ignoring the subject? Hoping you wouldn't ask me about it?
It was 1995 and R.H. and I were at one of those estate sales where the crowd sweeps you along and the prices are exorbitant. Still, you hate to leave without buying anything. On our way to the garage, where R.H. hoped to find tools, we passed through the kitchen where determined women were snatching up all the pretty 1950s dishes and cookware.
One item sat alone on the counter by the door to the garage, ignored. A worn green recipe file.
Something made me scoop it up and pay ten dollars for it. Inside were stuffed newspaper clippings of recipes and a bunch of the old recipe pamphlets put out by companies pushing their products.
All of this was nice but what made me squeal with delight as R.H. drove home were personal letters and pages of scripts from a local Nashville television cooking show that had been popular in the 1950s. They belonged to the hostess of the cooking show that my mother had watched when I was in elementary school. There were pages of typed menus for these shows, including one for a Christmas special.
I wish I could show you a picture of these but I need to find them first. Until I thought about posting about it I assumed they were still in the file, up in my closet. I looked everywhere for them the other day with no luck. Not too surprising as they've been put away since 1995. That is when the purchase of this recipe file gave me the idea of writing my first short story.
I wrote it in two weeks and sent it off to a magazine published by a religious publishing house in Nashville where I had worked before we had our first child. To my surprise, they accepted my story of a pregnant woman from Massachusetts, whose hobby was restoring old cars, who moves with her husband to the South where the purchase at an estate sale of an old green recipe file--my very file--helps her to believe that she can learn to like this strange place called the South. Everything she needs is in the green recipe file.
Other than the births of our children and grandchildren, this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. Receiving copies of the published issue was more thrilling than being given a bag of diamonds.
To think, an actual artist had been paid to illustrate my story, "The Recipe." And they gave four pages of their magazine to it!
I immediately got busy on another submission, this time a Christmas article on the Advent wreaths I made each year. It was accepted too, so obviously the next step was to write more short stories and articles and attempt to get them published by other magazines in order to build a resumé, right?
Go ahead and laugh when I tell you that what I did instead was to begin writing a novel. I spent two years on it and it was promptly rejected by another publishing house, even with a letter from a friend to his editor friend there. Embarrassing then but I would have been even more embarrassed today if it had gone to press. Know what I mean?