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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soul Food

I have always thought my dad was one of the luckiest people I know. It’s certainly not because his life is perfect seeing as how he continues to compete with Elizabeth Taylor in his search for wedded bliss despite numerous failed marriages. No one who knows him would say he has had a stress free life. Besides his love-life turmoil, he has been to war, raised several book-worthy rebellious children and lived through a ten year company strike in which he started and grew a flourishing business only to have one of his business partners literally run away with all the money. It is none of the immediate things you think of when you are evaluating someone’s life and concluding he or she is charmed.

The luck comes from the fact that even though his job as a pilot threw him a few loops, like the strike, missed family holidays, crazy sleep schedules, and prolonged periods of simply being absent from home, he loved his job. He had a passion for flying and he was able to live that passion out every single day for forty years. I think part of the reason he stayed optimistic in his personal life was because he garnered so much joy from his career.

About ten years ago while I was visiting him at his lake house which contained many of the luxuries flying had enabled him to purchase, I asked him if he loved to fly because the money was so good. He’d been strumming on his guitar, singing a Willie Nelson song, but my question put a frown on his face and stopped his nimble fingers in mid-stride. He told me something I would never forget, something that enabled me to say goodbye to my eight to five job and pursue my own passion of writing.

Dad said he flew because it made him want to get up. He flew because it was in his blood. And he flew because not to fly was unthinkable. Apparently, as children are apt to do, I had romanticized the early years in his career when the job had not paid so great, and he had struggled something fierce just to make ends meet.

After the visit with my dad, I went back home, but I never forgot our talk. The other day one of the women in my critique group posed a question on her blog that asked why do you write. That long ago conversation with my dad came to mind, and I thought immediately that I write because I love it, but then I sat down and really looked inward, wondering was this really true. I’ve definitely had my shares of ups and downs so far in this business, and though I’ve sold some short stories I have yet to get THE CALL for one of my full length manuscripts.

Sitting in my kitchen with my beloved cup of coffee, I asked myself if am I writing for the call or because I really do love it. The answer was immediate and swift. I love to write. It’s my passion as flying is my dad’s. Even with this answer, I wondered honestly if I would continue to write even if THE CALL never comes. When I woke up this morning the first thing I wanted to do was sit down and write the next chapter on my current work in progress.

Writing is the food that feeds my soul, and I don’t think I will ever give up the journey since the characters and stories keep popping up in my head and won’t be quiet until they have their moment to shine on paper.

So I suppose this blog is dedicated to my dad who showed me one sunny, summer day that one of the luckiest things in life is to find and pursue your passion.

Thanks, Dad.

Julie Johnstone
The Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. Great post. This is so true. When I get up in the morning, I want to go write, but am pulled to the office anyway. There was a time when my day job brought me happiness. Now, not so much because I would rather be writing. Besides the need to write, I also consider it my therapy. Once I've gotten a chapter or two written, or heck, even just a scene out of my head in the evening, I am a lot happier. It is an addiction, a need, a passion. If I writer doesn't have that then I don't know how they can write a great story. However, research is almost as exciting (which is something I probably need to examine further). Thanks for sharing your dad's wisdom.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to your father. I'm so glad you stuck with writing. You have a natural talent.

  3. Julie,

    What a great life lesson. Like you, I truly love writing. I also wake with the desire to fire up the laptop, and I struggle against turning it on before my family is off for the day.

    It's nice to have something that excites me as it does. I like my other job and don't mind it. In fact, it has lots of rewards aside from a regular paycheck. However, it doesn't fill me with passion.

  4. Beautiful post Julie. You brought a tear to my eye and that's not so easy to do lol. I have to say I had a similar experience with my own dad. He told me "If you don't like something about your life...change it. You're the only one that can." It made sense to me. I wasn't doing what I wanted to and I was determined to do exactly that.
    I was about seven when I first read "Gone with the Wind" and I knew I wanted to write. I've never strayed from my dream and once I found romance novels at twelve I knew exactly what I wanted to write. And I've never looked back. People ask me isn't there something else you want to do with your life? No. Even if I never publish, I'll still write. Like you it feeds my soul.

  5. Julie, this is a wonderful tribute to your father. And like you, I write because it feeds me. I keep getting a little closer to that wonderful moment when I get THE CALL, but I know that it may never come. And I think, essentially, that's okay. I write because I have to write.

  6. Great post, Julie. I also love to write, and even more than that, I love all aspects of this business and am so lucky to get to work in many of them. Kudos to your father and to everyone else who lives for their passion and does what makes them want to get up in the morning :)

  7. Julie,

    I have always written because, like you, it is in my soul. What a sweet blog dedicated to your father. :)

  8. My dad feels exactly the same way about his job - also as a pilot! When he comes home from a trip, sometimes he will get on the flight simulator game and fly the trip all over again just for the fun of it!
    He inspired me, just like your dad did. I always thought that it would be a dream to love the work you do. Know I DO love my job... I just need to make some money, LOL!

  9. What a great post, Julie! And a wonderful tribute to your father.

    I've had my ups and downs with writing, and wondered many times whether I really loved it or if was just determined to see my name on a best-seller list. I recently decided I wanted to take a break from writing and kind of let myself off the hook, so to speak. I decided if I really wanted to continue to be a writer, then the laptop would call to me eventually. Well, it did call to me...the next morning! LOL! Only it wasn't calling me to the genre I've been writing in for 3 years - it was calling me to a whole new project. And I've been happy as a pig in you-know-what writing this new story.

    So, yes, I love to write :)

  10. Erin,
    That's so funny about your dad. Flying simulators sounds exactly like something my dad would do!

    I can't wait to read your new project!

    I've had the opportunity to work on the editing side of the business,and I must say, I love it to. I wonder if one you have the bug of this business it filters to other parts of the business?

    It's obvious writing is in your soul based on your amazing books. Nothing that good can be written by anyone who does not have the passion.

    I just know your day to get THE CALL will be coming soon.

    Gone With the Wind is one of my all time favorite movies. I love, love, love Scarlet and Rhet!

    You are so lucky to love your other job as well as writing. I think you are doubly blessed.

    Thank you for the compliment.

    I didn't even touch on the research, but I actually started writing my first book because I was fascinated with a hunting scene I had read and started researching to learn more about it and six month later, voila! I had my first novel, Dangerous Desires.