Laura Elvebak – The Story Behind the Fiction

The DancerI always wanted to be a writer but first I was a dreamer and a reader. My taste tended toward great adventures and romance. War and Peace, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Little Women, Nancy Drew mysteries. I fell in love with the heroes in the Frank Yerby and Sidney Sheldon books. I yearned to escape into those worlds and live with adventure and romance. I wanted to write big stories like those. Every night when I went to bed, I dreamed up a story to be continued the next night. There would be previews first, a taste of what was to come.

I read books on writing, attended university classes, and attended workshops. One lesson declared, “write what you know.” Great. I didn’t know anything. Like most teenagers I didn’t want to grow up to be normal like my almost invisible and boring parents and their friends. To be a writer, I must experience adventure and romance so I could write about them.

That’s how I met my six husbands. That’s how I got to ride on the back of a motorcycle and participate in a documentary with the Hell’s Angels. It’s why I chose a bus ride to Canada to see a motorcycle race instead of staying in college. It’s why I became a go-go dancer to support myself and my daughter.

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Reflections on Life

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I always lived near my parents, made choices with them in mind, and always went to them when I needed help. I doubt I’d be the woman I am today.

Times were different as a new adult in the sixties, but not as different as you’d think. The economy wasn’t great, drugs were easily accessible, the job market uneasy. If I depended on my parents, I would never have been a dancer, or had six great loves, lived in six different states, and had all the adventures a writer needed for future plots. I learned to be self-sufficient. I learned what it meant to be me.

I explored. I had great pain and great joy. I never looked back, always forward. Mostly I was intent on survival. Think what would happen today if you went to a new city with only ten dollars in your pocket. No parents around to beg money from. Suppose you also had a child to support. If you’re lucky, you had someone who took you in until you could get a job to make you completely self-sufficient. Maybe one job wouldn’t be enough.Two or three might do. You wouldn’t take advantage of another person’s generosity, no matter what the temptation. The goal is to be independent and not have to rely on anyone but yourself.

It’s easy to blame the economy, the government, society, corporations. I never had time to blame anyone but myself if I strayed on a rose colored path. I never had time to do anything but survive and live with total abandon, look for the open door, listen for knock of opportunity, and pick myself up when I fell.

Would I have had the life I had if I’d stayed at home with family, knowing they would be watching everything I did? On the other hand, I love my children, love having them live close to me. Yet, sometimes I wonder how different their lives might have been.

Reaching A Certain Age

I read an article today in Parade about Neil Diamond still performing at age 70 and soon to be married for the third time after many years. Jane Fonda was on the Sunday Morning show. Also in her 70’s, she performs in a Broadway show or two and has produced several workout DVDs. I think about Betty White in her 90s, two TV shows and multiple appearances. As I hear them say, I feel like I’m in my forties or fifties. I have plenty of energy and my interests keep me alive and too busy to hear my bones creak and moan, so I imagine they don’t.  

Those entertainers make me feel better. I’m almost there with them. I write mysteries full time, one a work-in-progress, one finished except for continuing editing due to more insights and critiques. I’ve had two mysteries published by a small press. I’ve co-written, acted and directed a play that was produced on stage. I’ve recently become involved in the 48 Film Project as a screenwriter and have produced four scripts to be considered for this upcoming 48-hour weekend. Will work on whatever is chosen this Friday night, attend the shooting of the film on Saturday, and rest while the editors edit Sunday and turn in the project. I’ve written and optioned several screenplays in the past, but this is a new experience and I’m loving working with the team.

So many exciting endeavors since I’ve retired. What we seniors seem to have in common is the passion for our work and play and what we strive to do each day. The LOVE of the work we’re doing. Along with this life style comes certain necessary responsibilities we owe ourselves – eat right, exercise regularly, write everyday to keep our brain active and sharp.I attend two critiques groups a week. They keep my imagination and writing sharp. Without them, I would have to work even harder to make the ideas not only flow but to make sense.

I go to several writing conferences a year. This gets me out to meet people, new and old friends, mingle with contemporaries, network, go to cities and towns I’ve never been to before, get away from the keyboard for a few days and energize.

Keeping healthy is vital to living a long and productive life. I have good genes and I heal quickly. My family lives close and I love them. I try not to interfere with their personal lives. My two daughters are in relationships, have children. Four grandchildren are adults now, so they don’t act like it most of the time. All of them have their problems and would love for me to solve them for them. I didn’t go to my parents or grandparents to solve my problems. I learned by experience. They can, too. Otherwise, my time and energy would be drained away. They have their lives according to their choices, and I have mine. My son lives with me. He will be 40 this year. He works and is a good companion and roommate. He doesn’t have the issues the others have so our lives are harmonious.

I’m not married anymore. Six times did it for me. At my age, I will and sometimes do enjoy a lover, but I’m happy being single and able to do what I want, when I want. The husbands I chose were great characters, I loved each of them passionately, but when the passion left and reality set in, it was time to leave. I have no regrets about my past. My experiences made me a better writer because I am able to look back and reexamine situations, certain choices, dig into the psychological pit.

My advice to all is to be passionate about something and commit your life to living with the riches of your imagination.