This is a story I don’t want to tell. A story of terrible, loss–of love, long denied. You see, I knew I was supposed to be a writer in third grade. Mrs. M gave us an assignment over the break to write a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end and characters, plot, and dialogue. The whole nine yards. Our stories were due immediately after the Christmas break. (I know! Can you imagine a teacher getting away with that nowadays?)
I spent hours and hours holed up in the “tent” I made out of the piano bench and a blanket, writing my first novel. I know it was a long story because when my Mrs. M read it aloud to the class, she had to stop reading in the middle and complete it the next day.
I received my first hint of what it feels like to be a successful author when Mrs. M stopped reading the first day and all the kids groaned.
“Ahhh!” they said.
Of course, it didn’t dawn on me my friends were sorry storytime was over. I was certain they couldn’t wait for the end of the story. My classmates asked me how it ended, but I wasn’t going to spill the beans about whodunit. No, sir!
Why is this a tale of terrible loss? Because I let the dream of being an author slip away. Sure, I never worried about my Language Arts grades. I was the kid who busted the curve for the entire class. That girl. The one who wore glasses and spent lunchtime with her nose in a book. I made A’s on every composition, paper, and essay. Grammar was effortless. (Thankfully, I’ve managed to unlearn some of it.)
I took my writing skills for granted. Not for me, the life of a penniless author. I wasn’t about to waste my time in the Fine Arts Department at college. No way. I graduated with a double major in Business and Computer Science, thank you very much.
The writing gene is tough to suppress, though. In every position I held after graduating from college, I found myself supplying the writing muscle for projects. Go figure. I wrote up project plans, design documents, technical specs, user documentation, change notes, and diplomatic emails. Meanwhile, I kept journals. I read thousands of books. And, I ignored my muse.
Then, I decided to earn my teaching certificate and teach Reading. Hardest work on the planet! Teachers are underrated, underpaid, overworked minions of the state. They are the unsung heroes of our day. They should get paid twice as much for less than half the hours. But, I digress.
I taught Reading and ESL for grades 6-8 for four years at a Title I school. During the years I gave my all to the system, I fell completely, madly in love with YA Fiction. I scribbled every spare moment in spiral notebooks and wrote a book series. Or, rather, I wrote a rough draft of a book series. I dreamed about starting a blog, too. Writing was my link to sanity in that crazy place we call middle school.
Now, I’m fifty. Remember? I said this is a story I didn’t want to write. A story of terrible loss–of love, long denied. But, there’s a happy ending. At the end of the last school year, I resigned from teaching public school. I started a blog. Two blogs. Make that three! And, I began re-writing my series from the beginning under the stern eye of my critique partner. Did I say teaching is the hardest work on the planet? I was wrong.
These days, I proudly tell everyone I’m a writer (even before I’ve sold my first book). My long, lost love–found at last!
Are you a closet writer? If so, comment below. Better to acknowledge your true identity than deny your “writing gene.”
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