This past week I was in my hometown, refueling my gas tank as my father would say, with my little rescued white schnauzer, Lulu.The week was magical as it almost always is when I am at the lake house. Peaceful, introspective, and rejuvenating. To my surprise, I read an article in my hometown paper that struck me with what I learned AND the impact it can/did/will have on most that read it. All attribution must go to Marie Snider, who wrote this article. I am paraphrasing my key takeaways for you.
Most women reading this article are familiar with the Nancy Drew mysteries. I LOVED them growing up. Carolyn Keene, the author of these books, created the Nancy character and I loved her brave, adventurous, real personality. She was a fun and exciting role model for those of us growing up in the 1960’s. Nancy was beautiful and rich; however, it was her unique talents like auto mechanics and horseback riding that enticed us. We loved that she was so diverse and always solved these intricate crimes. For over 50 years, Carolyn Keene was credited with this popular and best selling series of books.
Then in 1980, Mildred Benson was ordered to appear and testify in a court case involving Nancy Drew’s publisher. it was here that the truth came out.
There was no Carolyn Keene!!
The real writer was an Iowa girl named Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson who wrote under the fictitious name of Carolyn Keene. Mildred, the child of a doctor, has always aspired to be a writer since childhood. As early as grade school, she wrote children’s stories and won writing awards. By the time she went to college, she had sold over 100 stories. At the time of her death in 2002 at age 96, Mildred had authored the first 30 Nancy Drew books and thus was the creator of the character and set the series in motion. HOWEVER, amazingly, she was a ghost writer and had signed away all rights and agreed not to publicly reveal her identity. She was paid a whopping $125.00 a book – that was it! She received NO profit from the 200 million Nancy Drew books that have been published in 17 languages OR from the numerous Nancy Drew board games, movies, and television shows. For over 50 years (!!) no one even knew her name.
Now, here is what is even more astounding to me. She could have become bitter – yet instead, Mildred said:”I like to live life as it comes. It is a waste of time to dwell on the past. Look at the Present. Look ahead. I think that is what has kept me alive.” Simply amazing. As I wrote about in my first book, being PRESENT is the key to so much magic in life. Mildred’s life is just one of thousands who show us, through their lives and their choices, how to get the most out of this incredible experience called life.
She wrote more than 130 books (!!) and hundreds of short stories. She earned a pilot’s license at age 59, and was a reporter and columnist for over 58 years in Toledo, Ohio. Yet, her identity was basically anonymous on the grand literary scale. Yet, she lived a VIBRANT and successful life primarily because she chose to ‘live life as it comes’ and refused to dwell on the past. WOW – what we can learn from this example!