Elaine Marie Carnegie
MY WRITING JOURNEY
By Kerri Jesmer
Please help me welcome Kerri Jesmer with her story as Guest Author for the Writer's Journey Blog this week!
The beginning was a long time ago. I started off telling stories before I could write. As my older siblings like to remind me, one of those stories was short and simple:
There once was a horse. And it was blue! I would laugh and laugh, as though I had told the most hilarious story ever.
But let’s move forward. I would say that although I wrote short stories and dreamed of writing novels, I didn’t take things seriously until high school. My English teacher, whom everyone called Mr. D but whose name was Ely Dragoiu, praised a story I’d written for our creative writing course. He told me I should keep writing and I had good potential. I was over the moon! That had been the job I’d always dreamed of living; a job that would give me joy every day when I sat down to work. Though Mr. D has long since left this earth, being well into his 60’s when I was his student, I am forever grateful for that encouragement.
I followed his advice. There were no home computers back then, so I hand wrote in various notebooks. I wrote some not so good poetry, though I think I’m better now. When I could afford to, I bought an electric typewriter. Then a word processor in the 1980s. I made up bedtime stories to tell my nieces when they were small. And I made up stories for my foster daughter I cared for when I was twenty-three and single to ease her anxiety and soothe her to sleep. But as my ambition to climb the corporate ladder rose, my writing life took a back seat. Work-life took over.
I started working when I was just thirteen years old and didn’t stop until I was married, waiting for our child to be born. Once Rachel arrived, I desired to get back to writing as she got older and required less time. But I returned to the workforce instead and the writing was delegated to the back once again.
We bought our first home computer when Rachel was around three. This was a new world. It made writing so much simpler than it had ever been before. I started blogging in 2004 and loved being able to write what came to mind, my thought, and keepsakes about Rachel.
Of course, I’d also kept handwritten journals during the years before, writing in them often when the years of her childhood were passing by quickly. Still, I rarely dabbled with my creative writing. I worked some on a historical novel which sits in my desk file now with newspaper articles about that time in history and other paper research.
As Rachel grew to a teenager, I took a more challenging job as an office manager for a CPA. This meant working many hours from January through April. Sometimes it spilled into May. And we did bookkeeping as well, requiring we worked year-round. Lots of hours meant writing once again was pushed to the back burner.
In all this time, I’d never attempted to publish anything. As a teen and in my twenties, my mother would roll her eyes when I read a story to her that I’d written. She often reacted uninterested by them. Maybe they just weren’t any good. But having so little support there, where I had expected it to come from, made me think my writing would never be good enough.
Once I was married and read some things to my husband or told Rachel a story I had just made up, I finally got the full, enthusiastic support I’d needed. That support pushed me to want to return to writing. Finding time was my biggest obstacle.
I’ve dabbled in writing horror, romance, paranormal, historical fiction, Western, science fiction, fantasy, detective, children’s lit, and what I write most of the time, speculative fiction, which can include all of the above. Not all of these genres have been polished and published just yet, but I hope I manage that one of these days.
On Christmas Eve of 2015, I became seriously ill. My husband was told I would not survive. I had respiratory failure and sepsis and was on a respirator for sixteen days. Anything over seven days is considered a long time. I think some don’t understand that a respirator is life support. You’re not capable of breathing on your own. Without it, you will die. And sometimes with it, people still do. Damage ensues. I lost my professional speaking voice and I lost my ability to sing, a gift I’d used to soothe my heart in times of pain, sadness, joy, in spirituality, to celebrate holidays, and as something Rachel and I did together. You name it, I sang. It took me two years after I left the rehabilitation center to recover. I didn’t make it home until March of 2016. Life would never be the same for me. And I didn’t know, due to some brain damage from being without enough oxygen, if I’d ever write again.
My voice has never returned to me. My vocal cords are paralyzed. While I can speak, it is hoarse and certainly not the voice I had before. And I can no longer sing as I did. That, too, is hoarse and my range is almost nothing at all. I struggle daily to breathe through two centimeters between my vocal cords. These were hard things to find peace over.
Two years later, I found my writing was still there. But it was not until I’d been through a few more struggles that I knew I would never be happy if I didn’t pursue this love of writing to see just how far I could go with it. All I wanted was to be published. Just once.
In April of 2017, I fractured my right knee while we were preparing to sell our house in Colorado and move to Utah for my husband’s job. On crutches at first, I fell over some things left on the floor of the kitchen. When I did, I completely severed my left rotator cuff and bicep. My left arm barely moved and was painful. And my knee kept getting worse. An x-ray showed the fracture, so we did a cortisone shot since there is little to be done for the knee. That caused a staph infection which resulted in a further fracture and required surgery and several weeks of rehabilitation to get my knee straightened. After three weeks, I came home. Writing was out of the question.
Soon enough, my knee healed so I no longer needed crutches or a cane. But then came surgery on my left shoulder. Because of the severity of the tears and the required surgery, I was in a sling except to shower for nine weeks. Again, unable to write. The final act was surgery on my right big toe to repair some damage done by arthritis. And with that came many infections.
Through all of this, I kept thinking that I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I hadn’t been able to work all this time and I was weak from so many surgeries in a row. I came to terms with my mortality. I discovered I could endure a lot of pain and live through it. And the only thing that I wanted to do was write. So my husband and I talked, agreeing I’d stay home. My mind was filling up with stories.
I joined a few Facebook writing groups because I knew I needed to learn more if I wanted to make this happen. And when I joined The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, I got to know Steve Carr much better than I had before. He encouraged me and supported my efforts. He even suggested where to send my first story because I felt lost.
At the age of fifty-eight, I published my first story. It was titled “Fair Game” and was published in issue thirteen of Dastaan World Magazine. From there, I published in several ezines, including Fifty-word Stories and Spillwords.com. I published a story in The Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine and two anthologies, “Dark X-mas: 100 Word Holiday Horror Stories” and “Portal: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Children’s Anthology 2019”. I’ve been accepted to be included in the anthology “Unity” from Penned In The City which is not yet available.
At fifty-eight, I’m finally living my dream career. And I feel like I finally made it.
Bio: Born in Germany, Kerri was raised on the Eastern plains of Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband, adult daughter, two dogs, two cats, and a fur grandbaby who seems to run the household. She is an author and mentor, having worked with her daughter’s middle and high school writing clubs. At age fifty-eight, she published her first short story in Dastaan World Magazine, followed by short stories in other ezines, including Spillwords.com and Fifty-Word Stories. She has published in The Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine and two anthologies, “Dark X-mas: 100 Word Holiday Horror Stories”, “Portal: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Children's Anthology 2019”, and “Unity” published by Penned In The City which is not yet available. She has been a blogger since 2004.
Thank you. What I went through really brought me to the point of publishing, knowing I had to write to really be happy. So in a way, it was a good thing.
"Ancients: Dark Drabbles # 10. Published by Black Hare Press will b available soon.
To follow me on Twitter: @KJesmerAuthor
To Purchase "Portal": https://www.clarendonhousebooks.com/anthologies
or directly to Lulu.com to purchase: https://www.lulu.com/shop/grant-p-hudson/portal-the-inner-circle-writers-group-childrens-anthology-2019/paperback/product-24395374.html
To purchase "Dark X-mas": https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Merry+X-mas%3A+100+Holiday+Horror+Stories&ref=nb_sb_noss
To read my story on Spillwords.com: https://spillwords.com/war-from-the-view-of-mother-earth/
To read my story on Fifty-word Stories: https://fiftywordstories.com/?s=Kerri%20jesmer&fbclid=IwAR2cJ3cvWii_Q7Ys9DLU2XG6VyAeZOCBDO0TONMZRAG8TwScctgmQOkbWLc
To purchase a PDF copy of The Inner Circles' Magazine Volume 6 OR better yet, grab a subscription for $26.00 US here: https://www.clarendonhousebooks.com/inner-circle-magazine-subscribe-pag