Elaine Marie Carnegie
A Destined Journey
Please welcome Julie Eger to the Writer's Journey Blog this week. Some Authors are just born to write...
I was born in a town known for its wild roses in central Wisconsin, USA. My name is Julie Eger, but I also write under the names Copper Rose and A.J. Lawdring. Copper provides the meat for the sandwich, A.J. is the unexpected condiment and Julie is the marbled rye that holds it all together. It’s the kind of sandwich that is especially satisfying when followed by pie.
My family has never been interested in literature. They didn’t read anything more than the labels on feed bags from the feed mill. By the grace of some desperate saleslady, wearing a purple dress and cat-eye glasses who happened to be passing through our town back in the mid-60s, we acquired a set of encyclopedias. I read those books from cover to cover,
When I was eight, I convinced my parents to get me Trixie Belden mystery books for my birthday every year. It was a lot to ask for when they needed the money to pay bills, but somehow those books showed up next to my homemade birthday cakes. I’d crawl under the hay wagon with a paper sack full of apples and a book and read as much as I could on my break from chores. I never thought about becoming an author, I just wrote on everything. Cardboard boxes. Grocery bags. Receipts.
The first story I wrote was “The Rat Who Ruined Christmas.” The story started with, “The sun was shining high and bright on Christmas day…” and then it went into what a poor family did on Christmas morning after they found out a rat had chewed up all the presents under the tree. Their mama decided the family would offer ‘thoughtful thoughts’ as gifts. The rat slunk away, hanging his head. Then the youngest member of the family left a piece of cheese by the rat’s hole in the floor even though the rat had destroyed her present. The thoughtful thoughts the family gave to one another carried them through that sad time and the story ended with…“The sun was shining high and bright the day after Christmas.”
In middle school I won a poetry contest with a poem I drafted on the back of a soup can label. In high school, I argued with my sophomore English teacher about what made a good story—she in her tight straight skirt—I in t-shirts and patched blue jeans. She would become frustrated and punish me. I spent a lot of time sitting next to her desk, staring at the walls. That’s when I started scratching out stories on my jeans with black and red ink. At night I’d scribble out poems on my pillowcase. I drove my mother crazy.
Sometimes I wrote on rocks. Or in the sand. Part of our yard resembled a crop circle, as I scratched out words in the grass. Then when I was sixteen I received a Smith-Corona Coronamatic electric portable typewriter, Coronet Super 12 with a snap-in ribbon, for my sixteenth birthday. My ability to string words together grew. I memorized the placement of all the letters on the keys and the words began to fly onto the pages day after day.
After that, I discovered an abandoned shed in the woods. The shed was tipped on its side and covered with grapevines and five-leaf ivy. I took a knife and cut those vines. It was only the beginning of cutting things open. I tipped that shed upright and hauled my typewriter down there along with one of my dad’s old extension cords. I began banging away at the keys; poems, stories, songs—amongst the mosquitoes, chipmunks and red squirrels.
At a young age I ended up marrying an inquisitive man who thought everything I wrote was about him—it wasn’t, but it probably should have been. When it came to things I’d written while he was in the house I was like a squirrel trying to hide nuts where no one could find them because I didn’t want to have anyone see what I was writing about, my thoughts and ideas. There was never a private place to write. I never had my own desk. I wrote at the edge of the kitchen counter, next to the rolled out pie crusts, or pattern pieces on my sewing desk. Next to the pincushion or the baby powder on the changing table after my kids were born. In the car or in the bleachers at T-ball games.
Then, when I was forty-four, after I was divorced, I inherited my dad’s roll-top desk. I put it in the corner of my home business office, with my new husband’s fishing and hunting shows blaring on the TV in the background. It was at this point I felt driven to write. One of the catalysts for that urge to write was the unsolved murder that took place in my neighborhood when I was nine. To date, that murder has never been solved. The other factor was alcoholism and mental illness in my family. Trying to make sense of things. My family was good at breaking rules so it was interesting to see how their choices worked out for them. I could never resist taking notes. It was then I typed out a 300 page draft of a novel. Something I never knew I could do, string that many words out in a row to make a story that big.
In 2018 I began to submit stories and poems to online journals, garnering acceptances of my work I never dreamed possible. I won reader’s favorite in the Cadence poetry anthology with my poem “Free Falling Eagles,” and a chance to have a collection published by Clarendon House Publications. I was one of three finalists in The Great Clarendon House Writing Challenge in 2019. Since the beginning of 2018, I have almost 150 published stories to my credit. Then I had an opportunity to co-write a novella with Dawn DeBraal. We hope to find a good home for the story.
BIO: You can connect with Julie on her landing page and Amazon author pages. She also publishes a blog called Getting to Know You Blog for aspiring authors and other creative people.