IWSG – January 2020 – I’m Back

IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understood we needed a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can either write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds like a good place to be, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for January 8 are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!  Thanks for your time, Co-Hosts!

If you don’t know me, you may be wondering about the title: I’m Back.  It’s a long story, which I will get to eventually, but I left IWSG in Feb. 2018 to sort my life out.  I didn’t expect it would take this long. At Christmas, I promised myself I’d start the New Year off right.  ♥  I’m so happy to be back.

I ‘d like to honour my father by answering this month’s question via an old story.

What Started You On Your Writing Journey?

May 31, 1983, Charles Murray Nowell was my dad. He was 56. One moment he was here, smiling, laughing, singing, being, and the next…

May 25, 1983

Eight months after he died, from what we suspect was sleep apnea, I was coping badly. Because I had sons and a husband who needed me, I knew I had to change that.

In 1984, there was no World Wide Web.  I couldn’t do an online search on the 12 steps of grief.  I don’t think anyone, at least not anyone I knew, even realized there were 12 steps.  The books I found at the library were clinical and provided little comfort.

One day, I was writing in my journal when a thought occurred to me, “I’ll write my dad’s story so he can live forever.”

A week later, the same blank sheet of paper was sticking out of my typewriter. I knew nothing about him.  What was I going to do?  I wish I could remember now who said this, but the conversation went something like, “You may not know his story, but he was your dad.  Write that story.”

So I did.

Seven years later, 1991, after hundreds of late nights and early mornings, hammering away on an old IBM typewriter every chance I got, I finished Always Father’s Child.  Without a doubt, it was the worst manuscript ever written.

But I felt hopeful.

More importantly, I was hooked on writing.

Two full-length manuscripts, one published collaboration, and three published novels later…

I’m a bonafide writer.

Dad at the top left-hand corner

P.S. My father had a tattoo done on his forearm while he was serving overseas during the Korean War. When I was old enough to understand that the funny marks were our names, I’d often stare at his arm. What I couldn’t articulate was that looking at Joylene made my heart feel as if it were glowing inside my chest. The irony: to me my name written on his arm meant that not only was I special, like everyone else in my family, I was also real. Writing made it so.







* Always Father’s Child, editting for evermore, perhaps *

Happy New Year Everyone!

Comments 23

  1. This is such a lovely tribute to your dad. He was a true hero who clearly loved his family, and I’m sorry you lost him so young. I’m sure he’s looking down and smiling at you. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story.

  2. How wonderful that you started writing about your wonderful father! Did you get it published? Thank you for sharing that with us, it’s precious. <3

    Thank you for visiting and commenting over at my blog!

    Happy New Year to you!

  3. Such a lovely story, Joylene. Surely there is no better way to find writing than through expressing love for someone dear to us. Your father will live on through your words. Welcome back to IWSG, I look forward to reading your posts.

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  4. You are truly brave, Joylene. My Dad was in the Korean War in the army. Welcome back to IWSG, my dear. This seems to be my first time here. I’ll follow your blog and connect with you online. I wish you health and success in 2020.

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    @Nick, thanks.
    @Diane, thanks. Happy New Year.
    @Janet, I will. thanks.
    @Kristi, I hope you continue.
    @Gwen, thanks for visiting.
    @Juneta, Happy New Year.

  6. Your story is beautiful! I love idea of that tattoo, and can only imagine the emotional connection there. I can relate somewhat, as a few years ago I tried to write about a few-week period in which my dad was fighting for his life in the hospital. I never did finish that, though still hope someday I can, but what I did write was pretty messy. It was cathartic at the time though. Happy IWSG day to you!

  7. Glad you’re back!!! My eyes are misty after reading your post. Dads and daughters have a very special relationship and you summed it up so well in your blog post about your dad. Yes, you should re-write his story drawing on all the storytelling skills you have gained since writing the original. In truth, his story is your story. Write it for your family. Sorry, I’m preaching again, but encouraging folks to write their life stories is a passion for me. New year, new beginnings. Happy 2020!!

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    @Thanks, Bish. Amazingly, it still does. Happy IWSG day.
    @Thanks Alex.
    @Thanks, Madeline!
    @Thank you, Mandy. Hope 2020 is a great year for you.
    @J.H. – I totally agree writing is a blessing. Hey, sorry about the cold spell you’re getting in Winnipeg. I love that city, but not the cold. I’ve got family in Portage. Happy IWSG day.
    @Thank you, Pat. I agree with you 100%. Best in 2020.
    @Louise, thanks. Who knows, maybe one day I can mould AFC into something special.
    @Thanks, Janet. Appreciate your message.
    @Lynda, thanks.

  9. I’m so glad that you are back, Joylene! You have been missed! I love that your father had your name tattooed on his arm and that it meant so much to you. Perhaps you can bring “Always Father’s Child” to fruition. I think your father would be very proud of all that you have accomplished!

  10. Happy New Year!
    Your father’s spirit helped you get over a terrible time and he also helped you learn how to cope. I know it was difficult but you had to go through the journey. It*s your story and it is reflected in everything you write.
    Wishing you an awesome start in this decade.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  11. Welcome back, Joylene! What a wonderful, if sad, story. I’m truly sorry you lost your father so young, but what a wonderful way to honour him and heal yourself at the same time.

    I’ve always felt writing was the best form of therapy.

    All the best in 2020.

  12. Beautiful story. I’m so glad you were able to write about your dad, but I am also sorry he wasn’t alive to see it. I know he would be so happy. It sounds like he was an amazing father. <3

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