The first time I realized I loved to write, I as in grade 5. We had to write a presentation on any experience we wanted and read it aloud infront of the whole school. This did not go over very well with me. So I fiddled around with my paper and pencil and came up with a summary of my many trips to the dentist. The deadline for submitting our work came and went, and my work sat tucked away in my bedroom. I received a big fat 'F' on that assignment, and thanks to my mother still ended up having to read it infront of the class.
But to my surprise, the other kids smiled and laughed along with the story, including my teacher. Afterwards, my teacher sat me down and asked why I didn't compete in the school competition. Had I, she said, I would have won first prize. I was stunned. This was a new school for me and my brother. Neither one of us fit in there. I was convinced even my teacher didn't like me. But in that single moment, I discovered a part of myself that lay hidden.
The second time cemented the writer in me for good. I was living back in my hometown, but again at a different school. Another contest was given out. This time it was Poetry. I remember not taking it too seriously, thinking the first time was a moment of pity or a fluke on my part. Again, I remember the look on my teacher's face when she announced my name, and presented me with a prize. A white stuffed rabbit--which I regret to say I gave away to a friend. I was asked to read it aloud to the class, to which I absolutely refused. But atleast I submitted the assignment on time, so there was progress.
The third time was a year later in English. Another poetry contest, and with a teacher I was again convinced thought very little of me. Not his fault of course, I was not an achiever by any means. Most likely could have had a Phd in Socialization. Nonetheless, he laid my assigment face up on my desk with a 25/25 marked in bright red pen. I looked up at him and how proud he looked shocked me to my very core. You are a writer, he said to me, and a good one. Keep going.
The last time was close to 15 years later, during which I wrote vigorously for the first few years. Short stories mostly, staring my closest friends and enemies too. Then, it was time to fill up my Well and live a little.
At age 34, I met Ed Zaruk at the library where I had signed up for a four week writing workshop. It was time to dust the cobwebs from my brain and see what was still there. Near the end of the workshop, Ed announced that he wanted to run a 3500 word story contest. The winner would be published. Every writers dream come true. So I went home and racked my brain, and came up with nothing. Then one night, I was looking through some tidbits of ideas I had typed on a separate file, and there it was. My one page rant I typed out a week after losing a baby. I kept going back to it, each time adding a bit more and a bit more. I had no intention of submitting it, until the night before the contest was officially over. Clicking SEND was probably one of the braver moments of my life.
After many revisions, which was brutal to my ego, I submitted my final piece. He emailed three days later to tell me the good news. I was going to be a published writer.
More time has passed since then. More curve balls have been sent my way then I could catch. Procrastination and self doubt are still obstacles in my path, but the writer inside me thrives...patiently waiting for me to pick up the pen and do what I love. No matter how hard I try, I can't let her down.