Franklin Countys First News

Local author’s memoir, Waiting to Begin, recently released

Patricia O’Donnell in her office on the University of Maine at Farmington campus.

Author Patricia O’Donnell in her office on the University of Maine at Farmington campus. Eight years in the making, her memoir, Waiting to Begin was recently released.

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FARMINGTON - It was a tornado that initially inspired Patricia O’Donnell to begin writing her memoir eight years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to see a tornado, but after seeing the destruction it caused I was a little embarrassed by that desire,” O’Donnell said. The tornado wiped out a third of her small Iowa hometown, killing many and injuring even more. After visiting two months later O’Donnell decided to officially begin the journey of writing her memoir.

“The tornado was what got me going,” she explained. “But for years I wanted to understand my life better- why I made the choices I made, why I did things the way I did. I wrote it to better understand my life.”

The memoir, titled Waiting to Begin, tells O’Donnell’s story of being a single mother, raising two kids and attending graduate school simultaneously. She says the book, in part, is an attempt to connect more with her childhood.

“I grew up in this really peaceful town with a big loving family, so throughout writing the book I was trying to find the connection between that upbringing and the stupid things I did afterwards,” O’Donnell said.

An English professor in the University of Maine at Farmington's creative writing department, O’Donnell previously published one other book before this one, titled Necessary Places. The book is a work of fiction but is based loosely on aspects of O’Donnell’s life, with both the midwest and Maine used as backgrounds.

Waiting to Begin was released last month by Bottom Dog Press. “It all happened very quickly,” O’Donnell noted. “I submitted this final version to Bottom Dog Press in May and it came out in August.” O’Donnell wrote several different versions of the memoir before arriving at the final product. “Bottom Dog Press looks specifically for stories that take place in the midwest, so when I found them I decided this version would be it, or not at all.”

Despite being busy with completing and submitting her memoir for publication, O’Donnell also recently won the Serena Kennedy McDonald award for a collection of short stories. It will be published by Snake Nation Press to be released before the year is over.

Waiting to Begin can be found on and will soon be for sale at Devany Doak & Garrett in downtown Farmington. A reading from her memoir will be held 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 at The Landing on the UMF campus, with copies of O’Donnell’s memoir available for purchase.

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7 Responses »

  1. Wow, Pat! Congratulations!! I want to read it as soon as I can get it. Remember, I was one of your writing students in the early "90's. You used to tell me I will write my book and for everyone watch for it and to read it. Well, it just hasn't happened yet. Still hope. Dorothy

  2. Dorothy, I do remember you well. It's not too late.

  3. I was very fortunate to be a part of Pat's early years when she was growing up in her home town. My relatives and grandparents lived there and I would spend many summers there. Pat, who I have always called Patty, was my best friend in her home town. We had many fun times together and I was always in Parkersburg every Sunday visiting so I was fortunate to see her frequently. She has always had a warm, caring personality and fun to be with. I always knew she would do something special with her life. I too, can not wait to read this book. Hats off to you my long time friend.

  4. just ordered it - and looking forward to reading it very much. Congratulations, Pat!

  5. Pat, being an Iowan myself, I look forward to reading your book. Congratulations!!! I am curious to know what town you are from, I am from Davenport and just love meeting others from my home state.

  6. I just ordered a copy. Congratulations on publishing it, Pat! I look forward to reading it.

  7. Vicki Mac, thanks for your note; I'm from Parkersburg. Renee Church, Lori Lewis, Wendy Oakley---thank you!!