This post is the second installation of the “Homefront Journal” series here on the Mil Spouse Book Review.
We often write about the deployments and homecomings, the flashy stuff, but what makes up the bulk of life as a military wife — particularly one who is also a writer? Guest author Lisa Stice — poet, teacher, Marine Corps wife (‘Uniform’) — shares her thoughts.
by Lisa Stice
Military life means frequent moves, which means a spouse needs to get creative about a career. I used to teach high school. For eight years, I taught at the same school and expected to teach at that school for many more years. But then I fell in love with a Marine.
That first move worked out all right. I knew well in advance where I was going and got my interviews in, my Nevada educator’s license easily transferred to a Virginia license, and the move was between school years. Easy. So easy it had me fooled that I could switch from state to state, school to school as the government moved my husband from coast to coast. California was not so easy. We knew we’d be leaving Virginia, but we got the where two weeks before the big move. Plus, it was after the start of a new school year. Plus, it would not be an easy switch to a California educator’s license. I was already a year into my MFA program, low-residency since I needed a program that would move with me, so I thought, “Maybe it’s meant to be. I can put all my time into my writing.”
Especially after my daughter was born, I became more accepting that teaching high school might be an impractical job for the wife of someone who spends not even a full three years at one duty station. And now we were moving again, and I wouldn’t have to even concern myself with searching for a job in a new place. I’m a writer now. I can work anywhere, right?
Well, it’s not that easy. Yes, I can write anywhere, but there’s more to being a writer than the solo act of putting pen to paper and sending manuscripts off to publishers. Writing also requires marketing, which includes (among other things) readings and author appearances. After trekking to colleges, libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, and the like through four counties, I have learned venues are looking for two types of readers: 1. well-known (with a first book freshly published, that is certainly not me) 2. local (with no roots in the community, that is not me either).
My writer network is in my computer network. I have lots of faraway friends who help promote me on their Facebook pages and websites. I search the web for people willing to interview and review unknown writers.
Most of all, I keep writing. Microsoft Word is a really good shoulder to lean on, and I write to her daily. I think that’s most important; I keep writing. Who cares that the little library down the street doesn’t want me to be the opening act for another writer in town. If I keep writing, maybe they’ll notice me. Maybe they won’t. I’m a poet. I obviously don’t write because I want to be a bestseller or a rock star guest writer.
Best of all is when someone unexpectedly reaches out to me. It’s so fulfilling to receive an email from an undergrad student in Boston who read one of my poems in an online journal and chose me for her reach-out-to-a-writer assignment for her class. I may not be known locally, but there’s a few people in Ireland and in India who follow my writing, and now I follow theirs. It’s the connecting that matters, not where the connections happen.
Lisa Stice is a Marine Corps wife. It’s difficult to say where “home” is, but she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. She is the author of a poetry collection, Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). You can find out more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and facebook.com/LisaSticePoet.