It is so exciting to become a published author (at last!!)
Life Song: An Irish Odyssey is the result of nearly six years’ research, and multiple rewrites. I chose the pen name of Susan O’Neill to honor my parents. Becoming a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association is an especially exciting experience, too. Acting on the maxim that it’s never too late (to do anything, really, as long as we’re still breathing) I feel more alive than ever. Sounds weird except this is coming from a ‘junior Senior’ citizen. Writing and storytelling have been a part of the fabric of my life.
As the oldest sibling in a large family, one of my favorite activities at the close of the day was to gather my brothers and sisters around me and tell bedtime stories. We loved Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson and an obscure book of tales entitled The Mermaid and the Simpleton.
On one especially stormy night in our Chicago area town, my six sisters and three brothers all wanted to stay with me in my room. As the first-born I rated a room of my own. Although I had a full sized bed, we were a bit cramped for accommodation. So, being the inventive little Irish kid that I was, I made a sort of Pullman bed for the little ones from my antique dresser. I took out the small drawers and used them as supports for the four-foot long lower drawers, staggering them like steps, stuffing blankets in for mattresses, covered them with flat sheets tucked over them, and arranging the smallest children in opposite ends of each of the “beds” and tucking the four little ones in for a comfy night of storytelling. We continued to do that every so often. Believe it or not that 19th century dresser with the swinging mirror held up beautifully!
Anyway, the important thing to me is storytelling. All people have their favorite brand of storytelling. Every art that human beings love is a form of telling tales: paintings, poems, songs, dances, sculpture, films, t.v. and yes, books, do that for us. Mine happens to be in the Irish bardic tradition, simply telling any interesting tale to anyone who happens to want to be the audience. It probably is at the heart of why I have chosen to become an author. The other day I happened to be reading a magazine in the doctor’s office and there was a cartoon entitled “The First Art Gallery.” Cave people were strolling around a spacious cavern in little groups admiring the most recent wall coverings. You have to love it. I did!
What kind of stories do YOU like most?? Almost all of us are capable of telling a tale. When we are young we have a tendency to make up extravagant tales in defense of some infraction of parental rule; some of them are classic! One of the children in my family explained to her second-grade teacher that her make-up homework assignments were not turned in because I had died! Imagine the puzzled look on the woman’s face when I pulled to the curb to pick up her up? Or the time she sold our neighbor a can of tuna because “Mommy needs the money.” She had overheard her mother on the telephone trying to make payment arrangements with some creditor. Boys are good at this game as well. My son, then 9 years old, offered an interesting explanation for his presence on the roof of our home: having just watched “The Boy Who Could Fly”, he told me with deep sincerity “Mom, I know I can do it!” Being a dutiful parent, I stated my case for why I preferred he not act on the belief. As a parent or an offspring of one, we all can appreciate such anecdotes. That’s storytelling!
Best regards, Susan O’Neill