All her life, Lucille Lovestedt wanted to be a writer.
But her career as a speech pathologist, and raising two children, didn’t always leave much time to put pen to paper.
As Lovestedt celebrates her 92nd birthday this month, she’s more than making up for lost time in pursuing her passion for prose by publishing a pair of books. One, “Doing Eighty,” is a collection of her Other Voices submissions to The Union’s Opinion page over the past two decades.
The other, “Commission of Child and Animal Protection,” is a “third-person memoir” of her childhood as an orphan in Wyoming.
Truth be told, she said, she didn’t really begin to write until after her husband, Ward, died nearly 15 years go.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, though I never did much of it other than the technical stuff that was related to my job,” Lovestedt said over a cup of tea. “I decided that I could write an essay to The Union, mainly because I was in a writers group and I wanted to have something to contribute.
“Then, all the sudden, I decided, ‘Well, that wasn’t that hard!’ … It was about buying a new stove — I’m not even sure what possessed me — but I was surprised when the paper published it. I thought, ‘Gee, this is fun!’”
Lovestedt’s regular contributions to The Union have drawn an audience that looks forward to her reflections on life after retirement in western Nevada County, where she and Ward moved nearly 30 years ago after he retired from Lockheed Martin.
She said she would rather reflect on real life than delve deep into the political discussions often found on op-ed pages.
“People do care about politics. I care,” she said. “But not enough to study it. … I just accept whatever happens politically and then curse the results.
“There’s so much out there about older people that is grim,” she added, attempting to explain her appeal with readers. “It’s really not that grim, getting old. In fact, it’s sort of fun!”
The title of Lovestedt’s short novel, which covers a span from 1924 to 1929, comes from Wyoming’s Commission of Child and Animal Protection, whose jurisdiction she and her siblings grew up under as an orphan.
Eventually, she said, the agency had dropped the animal aspect from the title, but, she said, “They didn’t have enough money to buy new stationery, I guess.”
“We grew up as other people’s children,” she said. “We took their name, though we were never legally adopted. But we had wonderful ‘adoptive’ parents. We were very lucky.”
When her nephew once asked her about his father, who had died in his 30s in a home construction accident, Lovestedt saw an opportunity to revisit her childhood and also give her family a good glimpse at what life was like for her and her siblings. She said her nephew had only remembered his father’s death.
“I had visited with him a couple of times over the years, and he always had a lot of questions,” she said.
“All this stuff (in the book), yes, it’s true through my eyes. There’s not anything verifiable, though, through research, but it’s what I remember. And that’s why I published it as a novel.”
Despite a self-described dread of self-publishing, Lovestedt said she eventually relented.
“I swore I’d never self-publish, but the truth is finding an agent is too involved. I’d too old for that. I’m tired!” she said. “So once ‘60 Minutes’ did a piece on it — and sort of blessed it — I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to take the plunge.’”
Lovestedt said she overcame another aversion in setting aside the pen and paper, or typewriter, in favor of a word processor.
“The thing that’s saved my life is my word processor,” she said. “It makes corrections so much easier. I fought technology tooth and nail because I don’t get it. That’s one I do use, and I feel very blessed to have it.”
Both of Lovestedt’s books are available at Tomes bookstore in Grass Valley and also at Amazon.com.
She said now that both books are complete, she does plan to continue contributing columns to The Union, “when I gather my wits again!”
For those who can’t wait to see her thoughts appear in the paper, they can find her blog at http://lucillelovestedt.wordpress.com, where fans can leave a comment to get in touch with her.
“I do get postcards and the occasional phone call,” she said. “It’s always pleasant to hear that somebody has liked what you’ve written.”
To contact Managing Editor Brian Hamilton, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4249.