Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Leta McCurry Share Thoughts on Writing and More at Book Readers Heaven

Hi Everybody! I'm so happy to have been invited to Book Readers Heaven for a short visit! Thank you Glenda for allowing me to share about my life and books...

I sometimes think how different my writing career would have been had I actually dug in, wrote and published (traditionally) High Cotton Country when I first conceived the story and dabbled in writing a few chapters thirty or forty years ago. The truth is, it wouldn’t have been the same story because over those years my perceptions changed as did my understanding, and, yes, wisdom. (You can’t spend 80+ years in life’s classroom without learning something.)

The quality of writing is, of course, a judgment call by the reader, but I know in my own mind that the High Cotton Country story I wrote at seventy-nine/eighty is a far better story than the one I would have written at forty or fifty, or even sixty. Those extra years gave me a deeper understanding of the characters and their own journeys through the story. It is true that age significantly changes perspective. I don’t take myself nearly as seriously as I used to. I know I’m kinder and gentler with myself, and I believe also with others. I’ve let go of so many things I used to think were important, that now I see as baggage that weighed me down. The list of things I value has gotten considerably shorter as has my expectations of myself and others.

Has age brought greater happiness? No. Age/maturity is not the key to happiness. I learned a lot of really hard lessons the hard way in my life. Two were particularly significant. Fortunately, I learned them in my thirties.

First, happy is something you decide to be. I’ve been happy ever since I realized and chose that truth. Happy has nothing to do with external circumstances, challenges, or other people. It goes to the concept “it is well with my soul.”   

It’s not that I’m never hurt by anything, face sorrow and grief, or difficulties and obstacles. It’s just that when I was younger – when I thought happiness was mercurial and depended on outside forces, difficulties, obstacles and irritations were met with an attitude of “Why me, God?” I blamed my parents, the circumstances of my birth (dirt-poor), school, my teachers, my town, my husband, God… I was an equal blame ranter. 

Once I chose happy, I viewed these problems, difficulties and challenges for what they were – life’s tools for polishing the character, refining the soul and growing the spirit strong. If a few problems didn’t knock us around once in a while, we’d all be wimpy, little tadpoles at the bottom of the food chain in the pond of life. (Corny, right? I’m eighty-three, remember? I’m not corny; I’m eccentric. It’s all in the perspective.) 
Choosing happy means that whatever comes my way, the internal gyroscope that keeps me centered may wobble a bit, but it won’t be knocked out of balance. 
The second epiphany was this: 
If my life isn’t all I want it to be, it is what I’m willing to settle for, or I would change it. 
I have to tell you, that was a hard pill to swallow. It meant I had to give up the blame game and face the music, square and face on. It was painful.  Recognizing and accepting those two revelations changed my life. 

Would I take a do-over? There are certainly many things I would change about my life, especially my early life. I would choose to embrace those two powerful revelations very early. I would not begin adulthood as a barefoot, pregnant high school dropout. I wouldn’t take on the weight of all that extra baggage that in the end means little to nothing. I would not change my kids, or having my kids, but I would be a better parent. I know that my kids turned out to be good, decent human beings in spite of me, not because of me. A lot of that was because I was a kid myself when I started my family. 

I don’t have a high school diploma but I don’t consider myself uneducated. I’ve always loved learning and am self-taught, mainly by being a voracious reader from a very young age. Continuous learning is vital to vibrant aging. It’s important to maintain an attitude of “I can” or “I can try.” 

Old begins with “I can’t.”
Recently, I switched from a PC to a Mac and that has been a real learning curve. I’m pretty comfortable with that now, but I simultaneously took on Scrivener, which has a steep learning curve. I don’t see the top of the hill on that one yet, but I’ll get there. I also play mind games on my Kindle when I have time and try to be open to new ideas and things. 

I’m not belittling health or physical limitations; those go with the territory. I’m dealing with some recent health issues myself. My paternal grandfather lived to be four months short of one hundred and eleven. For many years, he was the oldest man in Texas, and others in my family have lived past one hundred, so it behooves me to take care of myself. With the potential of maybe another twenty years ahead of me, I do everything in my power to nurture my mental, emotional and physical health.

I appreciate being old because so many people don’t have that opportunity.

Leah, this is such an inspirational story... The fact that you are self taught is certainly a message to children everywhere... There are always books at the Library or school that can be used to provide the way to an education... It is quite obvious that you've succeeded, your books are written like a true story teller! Can't wait to tell readers about your two books already available!

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