Telling Daddy’s Stories…

I’ve always had a short answer for those who ask how and when I began writing. ` I was born to write.’  The truth, however, is that I fell in love with stories well before I figured out that writing would be the vehicle I’d use to share my stories.  The two don’t always go together, you know.  I have met many story tellers who are not writers, but they can step onstage and mesmerize you with their stories – the sad ones, the happy ones, the scary or dramatic ones.  I could never in a million years find the nerves to stand before a crowd with the expectations of serenading them with my voice alone.  Thankfully, no one expects it.  A brief reading will do for me, thank you.

I was very young, not much more than a toddler when my father passed the craft of storytelling on to me.  I remember the magical evenings when Dad would pull up a chair next to the living room heater, and begin to spin his tales.  I can still hear his strong, gravelly voice, and see the twinkle in his eyes as he told his circle of children about a younger T.J. Kearney who loved adventure more than anything in life.

I was absolutely consumed by those stories, and green with envy because I knew no girl would ever be able to jump onto a moving train, walk miles from one city to another; or stand around a fire at night with just a barrel of burning paper to keep them warm.   I imagined my father; a young man full of energy and inquisitiveness going places I knew I’d never be able to go. By the time I was seven years old, my hands were itching to document some of the stories my Dad shared, and even to create some of my own. Back then, the only way I could write a story was to close my eyes and hear Daddy’s voice telling it; then, hold my no. 2 pencil tight in my hands as I scribbled out a story about the man and the train ride.

I never thought of it as writing back then, but story telling; about sharing, not just putting words on paper; but making readers see what I saw or what I imagined.  When I was a little older I even set some of my stories into plays, and forced my younger siblings to act out the story.  I laugh now when I think that I elected myself writer, producer and director of those masterpieces!

My love for writing is incomparable to anything else I’ve done in life, and now that I’ve made it my life…there is nothing that could tear me away. I have Dad to thank for that, his life, his stories…his sharing his stories so many years ago.


Janis F. Kearney is founding publisher of Writing our World Publishing, LLC, and author of five books, including Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir,, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, her most recent book; and, her next book, due out fall 2013: Sundays with TJ: 100 Years of Memories on Varner Road, which chronicles the amazing life and experiences of 107-year old TJ Kearney, of Gould, Arkansas 

Janis F. Kearney