Allow me to introduce myself. My name is not Eliza Murdock, but too many other people have my name so this is the one I write under. It’s easier than trying to explain, “No, I’m sorry, that isn’t me. I know she has my name. No, you won’t find me anywhere using a Google search, I don’t like using my real name on line…”
Besides, I’ve always loved the name Eliza, and my father’s middle name – his mother’s maiden name – is Murdock. Google that, and no one will confuse me for Eliza Murdock, born 1810.
I was born in 1977 – I’ll let you do the math – to an impatient, highly intelligent, hard working Civil Engineer and a poetic, operatic, OCD, stay-at-home, tender soul. I like to think I got the best of both of them, though I know I got the worst in a few cases and alas I didn’t get either of their musical talents which I find grossly unfair. But then, neither did my next older sister, so I’ll console myself with that.
I have two sisters and one brother, and my brother and I probably take after each other the most closely even though we only met two years ago for the first time. Funny how genetics work.
I may well be the only woman on the planet looking forward to turning 60. That is a story in itself, and perhaps someday I’ll write that one. I work at a manufacturing company supervising the design and drafting department. I can’t say I like being a supervisor. If I ever get to where I can make $2,000 a month writing and making paper and cloth pads and raising chickens, then I’ll be happy to retire – provided I don’t feel too guilty leaving the position empty.
I have lived in Skagit County, Washington State, my whole life – if you don’t count that year when I was three and we moved to Wyoming for my father’s job, which I never do, except when people ask if I’ve ever been to Wyoming and I say, “Yes. Well, I lived there for a year when I was three. I remember the tumbleweed blowing up the hill, and the jumping off the wood pile into the snow with my sister, and my best friend Dane – but not very well. Mostly from pictures.”
It’s in my blood to be from the Skagit Valley. My great (great?) grandparents, Clampets (no relation) came from Kansas on the wagon train and settled here so long ago. My great (great?) grandmother wanted to move out west, so out came the whole homestead. Her job on the wagon train was to knit socks for everyone else. She would walk beside the wagon every day and knit. My uncle has her diary, I still haven’t managed to secure a copy of it, but she says the best day of her life was the day she gave birth to a son, because that day she got to ride in the wagon. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
I’m not sure how long they lived out here before great (great?) grandma got homesick and they packed everything up and went back to Kansas.
Then a few years later, great (great?) grandma decided no, she really did want to be out west, so they moved back. By now they had put the train all the way through and so it was a much easier journey than the first time. It was only a matter of time, however, before great (great?) grandma got homesick again, and the whole family packed back up and went back to Kansas again. It was at this point great (great?) grandpa put his foot down and said that was it!
My father’s dad moved to Eastern Washington sometime later, and my father then eventually moved to Skagit Valley. So you see, I was meant to live here. It just took a few generations to get it right.
I live on a farm in the foothills of the north Cascade Mountain range. It’s a very little farm, but it’s absolutely home, not just a house. The house was built in 1932 and has those strong bones that houses built back then had. I bought it from my parents 6 years ago, so it’s not just home, it’s my home. My home, and my cats’s, and my uncle’s – my mother’s brother – who lives with me.
We used to raise chickens. I think next year I will again, but for now the main produce of my little farm are the vegetables I grow in the half whiskey barrels and the creativity that flows from my fingers.
What I really wanted to be – other than a writer, because when I was in high school I had the misfortune to believe people when they told me people just can’t make a living as a writing, unless you’re Stephen King or something, and I had the fortune of loving architecture – was an architect.
You know you are in the right job when you go to work and do your job for 8 hours, then come home and do it for another 3 for fun. That’s what I did for a while. I worked for an architect as his (only) drafter – which, let me just say, I would have been happy doing that job until I died – for eight hours a day, sometimes more, designing houses, drawing site plans, submitting permitting packages, and then I’d come home and play Sims for an hour or so, not the game itself mind, I’d just design the houses. I’d design whole neighborhoods of houses. For fun.
As often happens with the unexpected – that being that it’s unexpected – I found myself very sadly and very unexpectedly out of a job when the housing market crashed and no one needed architects anymore, and even those who had before didn’t want to pay us anymore, and my boss had to give me the bad news one day that not only could he not pay me, he couldn’t even find anything to keep me busy, so I went home… and wrote a book.
It’s interesting the kinds of things that major life upheavals can produce. I had nothing to do all day except apply for jobs that I was overqualified for, or underqualified for, or qualified for, but so were 50 other people who were also out of work, and I only had an AAS in Civil Engineering which really doesn’t get you anywhere in the engineering world, it’s more to look impressive for those who aren’t engineers.
So I had lots of time on my hands, and lots of uncertainly on my head, and lots of depression in my heart, and so I wrote a 100,000 word novel.
I had always been a writer, I remember writing as early as third grade, but I know I was writing before then, I just don’t remember it. I managed to hold on to my writing even through high school, mostly because I would never show anyone. It was a way for me to get out the heavy stuff in my soul in a way I could deal with it. Mostly poetry then, the dark stuff, the reason I would never show anyone.
But then I wrote a book and I found that not only could I write, I could write a lot, and I really could write that much! But then the book was done, and I didn’t know what to do next, so I lapsed a bit in my writing. I was writing short stories, but not the kind I could ever publish (fanfiction, don’t judge me!) And then I wasn’t even writing those anymore. I wanted to write, I just didn’t know what to write, and work left me tired and drained so even when I had an idea of what to write I was too tired to write it.
Then in June, 2012, I got tired of making excuses why I couldn’t write, however valid they may have been, so I decided to challenge myself to write something – anything – every single day. And when I started writing more, I started doing other things more, too, like sewing and making paper and drawing.
Now I’m always busy and always tired but it’s such a good kind of busy and a good kind of tired that always leaves me so satisfied!
That’s the history of my life (and a bit of my family’s life) up to today. I’ll update as necessary.
Thanks for reading. 🙂