How I Spent $1.50 and Changed My Life

On June 1, 2009, I wrote the first page, and then some, of my novel Missing Meg.

Thirty months! A long or short gestation, depending. But  it is a novel, 75,000 words, something that didn’t exist on the last day of May in 2009.

Such a short time when you think about the quarter-century of writing that came before. Or the half-century of reading.

But there were some guideposts. In 2007, I read Walter Mosley’s fine little book, This Year You Write Your Novel. His advice: Work on it every day, no matter what. The book must have planted a seed. Two years later I wrote that first line: June 1, 2009.

We moved into our 1921 bungalow in Los Angeles in March, 2009, where a 100-square-foot writing cottage sits right out the back door. Before dawn, the cottage awaits its writer. I went to work on a short story, my first in years.

Then Libby Simon and I went to a clutch of antiques stores in South Pasadena. This was in early May. Libby is a life-long Angelena. She knows all about the history of her city.

In one store, I plunged my hand into a small bin of yellowing papers. Out came this letter. I read it. I said to Libby: Wow! Read this! What if I write a short story filling in these delicious blanks?

The letter reads, in part: “You are a lucky girl, Mildred, to be getting out of this family.”

So I spent $1.50. And everything changed.

Very soon it will be out of my hands, and, if you wish, into yours. Stay posted.