From the time I could hold a pencil, I loved making marks on blank pages. Or in the blank space on pages. When I could print my letters, I copied words without knowing their meaning. At my parents' home there is an old dictionary whose margns show my efforts. I think that was where my love of words began.
Later, while other Grade 8s in my home town were suffering through boring rules of grammar and syntax, my teacher turned a year of English Composition into a creative writing class in which, every week, we tackled something new and imaginative. I understand now, as an adult, that it was probably her own love of reading and/or writing that prompted her to take this on independently, to develop the lesson plan in this way. At the end of the school year, she reviewed our notebooks. In mine she wrote: "You have a natural ability to write. Don't ever stop."
At those times when the rejection letters were piling up and I wondered why I even bothered, these were the words that always - and still - cleared away the clouds of doubt.