Recently I found myself wondering when my love of writing and literature began. The first image to materialize was of my 8th grade English teacher. I am standing in front of a sunlit window at Longfellow Junior High, receiving praise and encouragement from her. What she was praising me for, I can’t recall. We were learning the poem, Song of Hiawatha, written in 1865 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Each of us was required to create a diorama and to write a report. I had received my usual A grade but something was special. I strain to remember, but it doesn’t come.
After memorizing the lengthy poem, I had dressed one of my Madame Alexander dolls as the Indian guide, Hiawatha, for my display (with the help of my talented seamstress mother). Something about the flow of that poetry mesmerized me. It rolled off my tongue. It had a drum beat of its own. It spoke to me.
Sometime later – days –possibly years – as I sat in my bedroom reading every book in the library that summer, I was hooked. I would head out of Enid, OK as soon as possible and go to New York. Did I say as an author? I can’t recall, but maybe it crossed my mind. I was a journalism reporter for two years for the high school newspaper and moved to Yearbook as a junior. And I kept a journal daily during my teenage years. I loved to read more than anything in the world, literally walking six miles or more to the public library each week to check out another half dozen books. And yes, that one summer, I had a ridiculous goal of reading every book in that red brick building.
My college major was English Lit. I devoured Shakespeare, Melvin, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway; then taught English for a couple of years before becoming a high school counselor. My writing consisted of journaling and writing poems when I needed to release the bottled up teenage angst I was living. But mostly, I read.
It took 67 years before I began a Creative Writing certification program and launched a career in writing. A few awards and three short stories published in anthologies sparked my desire for more. Four novels later, here I sit. The last book published last summer and I took six months off. I’m still figuring out what I want to do next. Short stories maybe. Articles. A blog. It will find me soon. It always does – that desire to put pen to paper and write someone else’s story.
What event sparked your writing journey? Do you recall? If you haven’t begun, do you have the desire to tell your story or those of other? It’s never too late.