I never thought I'd be a published author. I mean, I enjoyed writing, but as someone who might actually get paid for it? Come on!
My "formal" writing began just a few years ago, and quite unintentionally. A good friend had commented that I'd overcome so many medical adversities in my life (from brain injury to broken bones to breast cancer) that I should put it all down on paper. She even suggested that it might serve as a way to help others going through obstacles in their own lives because of the positive and humorous spin I seemed to cast on all of those events.
My brain injury from a head-on auto accident left me with an impaired short-term memory. "No problem!" my friend said. Then she proceeded to send me over 500 emails I'd sent to her over the years which she'd saved in her computer and labeled her "Annette" file. She said there were so many funny anecdotes I'd shared with her alongside each medical challenge I'd faced, and she'd saved them all. So I re-read them, tossed some but kept many which, in fact, did jog my faulty memory. Eventually, this took on a life of its own and turned out to be the basis for my book Healing through Humor: Change Your Focus, Change Your Life! published in 2005.
Shortly after the book came out, I received my first "fan letter" from a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. She wrote, "You are hilarious! Last night I had bad stomach cramps and decided to go to bed early and read a bit of your book. I laughed so much, and my stomach ache went away. I will be buying this book for friends. I can't wait until your next book comes out. Thank you---your book is helping me through a tough week. Marie D."
(Who says money is a writer's only reward?)
A couple years went by and I thought--why don't I write something which really shows what's possible after illness or injury? You needn't confine yourself to home in many cases, I thought, and so why not once again illustrate from personal experience? That spawned my second book, A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the World which chronicles my travels to all seven continents and the strange things that happened along the way.
My faulty memory continued to plague me, but this time I came to my own rescue. An avid photographer, I'd always written in a notebook the subject of each photo I'd snapped during my various travels. When I returned home, I typed up a caption for each photo and placed it beneath each one, housing them in photo albums. So in preparation for writing the book, I simply reviewed each photo album, and the stories just came back to me! I've even included many of these photos in the book, as well as on my web site.