My mother had an oversized black leather handbag she carried everywhere especially as she grew older. Although she had smaller ones in different colors that could coordinate with whatever she was wearing, this one was an appendage on her arm whether she was going to the supermarket, the doctor’s office, a family gathering, or special event.
It was most likely purchased from Sears, her favorite department store, and it was spacious enough to hold everything but the kitchen sink; from candy she always had on hand for a fidgety child at the doctor’s office or her grandchildren at a family gathering, to important documents she never left home without, a pack of Kleenex, one or more ink pens, lipstick, a small mirrored compact, and a copy of the first magazine my writing was ever published in.
I thought about my mother’s handbag after I read a blog post by Renee Roberson that was recently posted on WOW. It was entitled, “That First Writing Job.” Many posts on WOW resonate with me, and many cause me to reminisce, as this one did.
I remembered how excited my mother was when I published my first article in a romance magazine. After reading it, she carefully rolled it and placed it in her handbag. Whenever we were out, she would take it out to show someone, sometimes perfect strangers. Although I was slightly embarrassed, when she passed it around like a basket of freshly baked buttermilk biscuits, it warmed my heart and also helped me believe more in myself as a writer and motivated me even more to reach my writing goals.
I don’t remember when my mother took that magazine out of her handbag. After she died and my sister and I packed her belongings, that magazine, falling apart with yellowing pages, along with other magazines my work was in, and several other cherished items of hers were in another one of her special places, a cherry wood chest she had in her bedroom.
My mother always found a meaningful place for my published work, and even some of my old notebooks I had as a child that held remnants of my first attempts at writing. Reminiscing about that nudged me into digging into a plastic bin and a taped up box in my garage that sits next to my packed away Christmas ornaments, to find a more worthy space for the magazines and copies of anthologies my writing was in.
As writers, we all know the importance of having a special place/space to write. But at times we forget the importance of also having a special place/space to house our published work. Sometimes we need a reminder that it was those first published pieces we could hold in our hand that gave us the confidence to submit our writing to other publications.
Although I won’t be putting a print magazine or an anthology with my writing in an oversize handbag to carry around like my mother did, I’m thinking of getting a hope chest and collaging it with writing quotes when I have the time and placing it near my desk to store them. Those bodies of work I still cherish and marvel at because it reaffirmed to me that dreams come to fruition if you keep at it and don’t give up. I’m sure that was also what my mother thought, so I’ve vowed to no longer keep those first publications hidden away. They deserve to be in a prominent place/space in my life.
If you haven’t already I hope you too find a special place/space for your print publications, anthologies, or books. Glancing over at a book with your name on it, rereading an article or story or play you’ve written from years ago, can only add more to your life as a writer; more pride, more passion, more reflection about your growth, and more appreciation of this gift you have and all the great things that await you because of it.
Jeanine DeHoney has had her writing published in several magazines, anthologies and online.
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