November 11th, 2010 - Elizabeth B. Splaine
When our third child was born in 2004 we decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom. That lasted about two days. Having studied classical voice from the age of twelve, I auditioned and started performing in local, then regional opera companies. I also started teaching voice in my home studio. Over the ensuing six years I built a solid student base and enjoyed the flexibility of working from home.
In 2010 we moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan. I was right in the thick of it with three boys aged 15, 12 and 6, along with a 210-pound great Dane and an aged, overweight black Lab. Life was a blur, ruled by moments and tasks- getting the dogs fed in the morning, followed by getting three kids out of bed, showered, fed, and to school. I wasn’t working at the time and filled my days with unpacking moving boxes and making our new house a home before family from the east coast arrived for Thanksgiving. It was about that time when the hot water heater upstairs exploded. This disaster led to two weeks of clean-up with plumbers basically living in our house as they rebuilt the closet that housed the water heater.
Semi-controlled chaos is the phrase that leaps to mind when I ponder those days of checking items off my to-do list. Having not yet built a voice student base in Michigan, life was a series of individual events that held no positive, personal goal. I moved from task to task, reacting, then planning, then reacting again when the plan fell through. I was a boat that had detached from its mooring, swept along at the whims of the current.
I investigated earning a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy or a PhD in Psychology, but the former required an undergraduate degree in Music and the latter seemed like too many years of school given my family situation. I searched the internet for voice teaching opportunities and saw a listing for a parenting website blogger, specifically focusing on children with developmental disabilities. I wrote a sample column about how labels can help or hurt a school-aged child with learning differences and was thrilled when it was accepted. I continued to write for the website and enjoyed the challenge writing brought, while simultaneously allowing me a creative outlet. My husband supported my writing as I started singing with the Grand Rapids Opera Company and built a voice studio. I was satisfied that I had found a wonderful balance.
Then one morning, my plan crashed. I was enjoying a relatively quiet moment brushing my teeth, when I inadvertently brushed the toothpaste cap onto the floor. Without opening my eyes, I knelt down to retrieve the cap, but couldn’t find it. I remember thinking how frustrating it would be to be blind and not be able to find a toothpaste cap. When I rose and opened my eyes, the name Julian Stryker popped into my head, quickly followed by other characters that inhabit his imaginary world. The details of Julian and his crew became crystal clear and, although I had not yet done any writing so grandiose, I rushed downstairs and started typing. Hours later, my husband returned home and asked what I was doing. “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I think I’m writing a book.”
And that is, literally, how my writing career began. Of course at that point I had no idea that this novel endeavor would be a career, but life has a unique way of steering us toward where we’re supposed to be.
Elizabeth B. Splaine spent eleven years working in health care before switching careers to become a professional opera singer and voice teacher. Six years ago she turned her creative mind to writing and hasn’t looked back. Elizabeth has written the Dr. Julian Stryker series of “Blind” thrillers, as well as two children’s books. When not writing, Elizabeth teaches classical voice in Rhode Island where she lives with her husband, sons, and her dogs.