I was thirty-seven when I first began writing something other than newsletters, press releases, and minutes for government and church meetings. I enrolled in a UC Extension class and wrote clunky anguished poetry and made my husband and closest friends read every labored word I wrote.
In response my dear husband bought me a bookmark emblazoned with "one day you will write a book" by Ashley Rice.
At the time I never thought that I'd write a book. I never thought I would see any of my words published. I thought the only people who would read my writing were those in my family and the half-dozen strangers in my first writing group where we met at Jumpin' Java, circulated copies fresh from our printers, and fortified ourselves for criticism with coffee and baked goods.
That was fifteen years ago, and it turns out the bookmark my husband gave me—a bookmark I kept tacked on the bulletin board in my office until we moved two years ago—was prophetic. I did write a book.
It wasn't what I set out to do. What I set out to do was write one poem at a time.
Inspired by talks at the Academy for Spiritual Formation, the hospitality of a clergywomen's retreat, the vision and mission of the United Methodist Church and my role in the Conference, the natural world around me, the writing groups I have been a part of, conversations with loved ones and my prayer partner, I took up a pen to respond, following one thought, one feeling, one impulse, through the warren of my mind and set it on paper, smearing ink (the curse of left-handedness) while I scrawled in a cheap college-ruled notebook.
Since then, the poems have been typed and revised, and many many remain, as they should, inside little electronic folders with titles like Spiritual Poems, Relationship Poems, Nature Poems, Short Poems, satisfying my organized left-brain that allows the creative right-brain its messy romps.
Today I celebrate the publication of Burnt Offerings not because I'll become famous (which I won't) or because having a book in the world allows me to legitimately claim the title writer (which it doesn't). I celebrate like a senior in her last days of high school, pouring over the yearbook on the quad with her friends, pointing to photos, laughing and exclaiming, remembering what she's been a part of and being slightly startled at the way it's been captured on paper.
What Burnt Offerings will be for you who choose to read it, I cannot say. But it is my hope that the poems will gesture for you to come close and sit down. May they call forth your own memories and longings.
In an ideal world, I would become the book fairy and slide a copy under your pillow while you sleep tonight. The best I can do in this world, is let you know that if you purchase a paperback copy from my publisher, you'll get the ebook version at no charge.