Today I am pleased to have author, blogger, editor and friend Lorraine Reguly over for a visit! I knew she had inspirational words to share and so I was happy she accepted the invite to guest post here. I hope you enjoy her words too and (psstttt) there’s a free eBook for you at the end too!
Okay, here’s Lorraine stepping up to the mic now:
Some people don’t like technology, but others embrace it.
Today I’m going to tell you about some of my experiences with it, some of the personal obstacles I’ve had to overcome in my personal life, and how I succeeded, against all odds (well, maybe not all, but some, for sure!), becoming a source of inspiration to others, actually saving a life, as I learned how to do what I believe I was meant to do, which is write my stories and then share them with others.
WARNING: This post contains sensitive content. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
The 90s: A High School Dropout Returns to School
I still remember my first experience with computers. It occurred in 1992.
During the 1990s, I spent the decade going to school, first finishing high school in a special program for single mothers, and then attending university.
My son was born in March of 1990, and when he was seven months old, I entered a program for single mothers. At that time, I was a high school dropout. I had barely completed my first year of high school when I was raped.
As you can imagine, being raped devastated me. What compounded things was that I didn’t tell anyone about it. I stayed silent for years. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I sought counselling and revealed what had happened to me.
For four semesters after my virginity was taken from me, I quit school. I was in a deep depression, slept a lot, and missed many classes. I fell behind, and had little hope of catching up, even though my IQ was high. School just wasn’t important to me.
I turned to drugs to help me cope. Although I never cared much for alcohol, I began frequenting bars with my older cousin, and often went home with strange guys, looking for love in all the wrong places. I allowed myself to be used and abused, blindly believing I was being “loved” at the time.
I grew to hate myself and my life. Both were destroyed by the monster who raped me. I tried attempting suicide, too. Obviously, I failed. Life went on.
Eventually, I found a boyfriend, and got pregnant. I was sixteen at the time, still smoking pot, and my boyfriend was an alcoholic. For these three reasons, I decided to get an abortion.
At seventeen, I met a Spanish guy at a dance. Though a language barrier existed between us, we began dating. Two months later, I was pregnant again.
Given a second chance at motherhood, I decided to keep my baby. My son, Julian, was born when I was eighteen.
I never really wanted children of my own, but when I was pregnant the first time, my mother had told me a story about my uncle’s ex-girlfriend, whom I loved dearly. When she was with my uncle, she got pregnant and had an abortion, at the behest of my uncle, who wasn’t ready to be a father yet. She ended up marrying a guy who wanted kids, but, because she had an abortion, she was unable to conceive.
When I found out that I had a baby growing inside me, all I could think of was the lady who I really, really wanted to become my aunt. Some twisted part of mind told me to have my baby, because I could, because my uncle’s ex couldn’t.
My son, Julian, made me grow up. He also saved my life on more than one occasion, but that’s another story. ;)
A Mother In Search of Learning
Not wanting to live on welfare, I decided to go back to school. I enrolled in the M.I.S.O.L. program, a special for single mothers called Mothers In Search Of Learning. I graduated with honours, scholarships, and awards.
The first time I ever touched a computer was during a course I took while in the M.I.S.O.L. program. I learned how to use WordPerfect, and I loved it. During my first year of high school, I had taken Grade 9 Typing during the first semester, and loved it so much that I took Grade 10 Typing in my second. Thanks to my extensive typing practice, when it came time to type on an actual computer, I fully remembered where each key was located on the keyboard, which gave me an edge above students who were still learning keyboard placement. I also learned spreadsheet basics.
Later, when I was in university, I used the computers in the lab to type my essays and term papers. During my third year, I took a Canadian Poetry course. The professor offered the option of doing a two-week, take-home exam at the end of the course OR writing a book over the three-month duration of the course. I opted to write the book. Naturally, I had to adhere to her guidelines to do so.
I completed all research, writing, and editing by hand, then used the university’s computer lab to type the final copy.
Back then, nothing was saved automatically. You had to hit “Save” if you wanted your work saved.
One day, as I was working on my book, the computer system crashed. All of the monitors in the lab went off, displaying blackness for a few moments until they rebooted.
What’s worse is that I hadn’t saved any of my work, and I had been typing for about two hours.
When my computer turned back on, my work was gone. I was in a panic, upset, and teary-eyed. Oh, did I mention I was on a deadline, too? I was, and it was a tight one.
Bawling uncontrollably, I ended up looking for and finding my computer professor, a super-smart, technologically adept guy, who searched the entire computer system of the university until he located the document I was working on when the system crashed.
As he was completing his search, he asked why it was so important to me. When I told him that I had to bring printed pages to the Thunder Bay Book Bindery by a certain date so that they could make a book for me to submit to my professor for evaluation, he became very interested and asked if he could buy a signed copy of my book! Of course, I agreed. (But I’d have agreed to anything just then.) ;)
Ultimately, I printed off three books. I submitted one for evaluation, I kept one, and I sold one, as promised.
Once my submitted copy was evaluated, it became part of an exchange program. When I found out that I received a 90% on it — the best in the class — I was also encouraged by my Studies in Canadian Poetry prof to pursue getting it published.
I went as far as buying three different copies of The Writer’s Market, but I’ve yet to send out query letters to potential publishers. For more information about my book, please watch the video I created for it back in 2013:
Self-Publishing is Now an Option, Due to Technological Advances
2013 was a turning point for me. I had reconnected with Julian after three long years, bought a kick-ass laptop, and tackled the blogosphere with a vengeance.
Until that point, I had owned two crappy computers from the dinosaur age. I rarely used them; they rarely worked!
When I purchased my laptop, I realized that I had a lot to learn. Technology had advanced so much, however, that everything was made easy for me.
Not only did I learn about blogging, I created an e-book about blogging. I also learned about self-publishing, and now that I know self-publishing is an option, I might independently publish The Life and Love of Canadian Poetry: An Interpretative View, like I did with my book of short stories, Risky Issues.
Because of my wonderful experiences with my laptop and blogs, I now embrace technological advances!
If I didn’t, Wording Well, the freelancing business that was born in 2014, would not exist.
Nor would I have great relationships with many online bloggers, writers, poets, and friends, which I cherish most of all. :)
Now I am offering a FREE ebook here when you subscribe to my blog Laying It Out There! Christy helped me by proofreading it. Just click here to sign up and get this freebie book, called 10 Stimulating Story Starts + A Bonus Short Story.
Lorraine Reguly is an English teacher-turned-freelance-writer, editor, and blogger. She shares her experiences on both Wording Well (where she offers various services related to writing, editing, blogging, and self-publishing) and Laying It Out There (where she also shares various book reviews), and can be found on a ton of social media sites. Feel free to say “Hi” to her in the comments below, on her blogs, or on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn. She’s open and honest, and would love to hear from you!