The first time I realized I wanted to be a writer was when I was seven-years-old and in the second grade.
A children’s’ author was a guest and we were escorted to the school library in the basement to meet her. We all sat on the cold, carpeted floor as she read to us from a stool in the front of the room. I don’t remember the book, or what she looked like, but I do remember the burning need I had to write and create my own book. And, I did just that. My first book was called, “Me and Mr. Monkey”. I thought I was going to be famous. I imagined myself traveling and writing and never having to go back to school.
I wrote the author and included a copy of my book. She wrote back with kind words of encouragement and I cherished that letter for a long time.
As I entered junior high school, writing saved me. In the seventh grade I couldn’t diagram a sentence to save my life and was on the verge of failing English. For extra credit we could write a short story, so that’s what I did. And, I wrote lots of stories for lots of extra credit. My teacher liked me, liked my writing and passed me.
In the tenth grade my English teacher gave us a writing assignment, an essay on the meaning of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Unbeknownst to us she submitted them to a Knights of Columbus essay contest.
A few weeks later I was sitting in algebra class when there was a knock on the door and was called out into the hallway. I thought I was in trouble. Instead my English teacher told me that my essay had taken first place in the contest. The exciting news and resulting rush of adrenaline made the top of my head feel like it had turned to ice while my heart was beating so hard I had a trouble breathing. I calmed down enough to return to my seat, but I was unable to stop from smiling. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Life takes many turns and although writing, and especially journaling, have been my constant companions, after high school I never shared my writing with anyone again until a few years ago.
I was at a turning point in my life and I began to realize that a writer not only writes, but shares her writing with others. I hadn’t shared anything I had written with anyone for decades.
My first, small step was attending a “Storytelling in Marketing” workshop taught by Barbara Winter. Barbara had been someone I’d admired for a long time. Since one my dreams had always been to work for myself this workshop was the perfect first step to begin exploring both writing and self-employment while also getting to meet Barbara in person.
During the workshop I found writing my story was a lot easier than sharing it. In our writing circle the last day I couldn’t read my story without crying so Alice Barry read it to the group for me. It was a very moving experience, not only because I had shared something I had written for the first time in years, but because I also took a chance and shared a very personal story about my Dad and I that touched the other people in the group, too.
This experience gave me the courage to continue writing.
My next small step was to take an online personal essay writing workshop with Sheila Bender. She’s a wonderful teacher with a very positive critique style. There were five other women in the group and we all shared personal essays.
This experience, again, proved to me that I was on the right path and that writing and sharing my writing was something I wanted to do and felt called to do.
Over the next few months I continued to write and to share my writing. These experiences led to the birth of both the Dreaming Café newsletter and website/blog.
Today I feel blessed to be able to write and to share my writing.
I hope that by sharing my story others will see themselves in it and by inspired to take their own small steps toward doing something they love and to living a life they love.