I've always known that I wanted to be a writer. At a really young age, I remember bringing a list to my parents and announcing that I waned to:
Acting--It didn't take me too long to realize that I was too shy to act in front of people (exhibit A: the disastrous school play try-outs of sophomore year. I wish I could wipe those memories from my brain)
Singing--I do well enough to sing my kinds a goodnight song and sing along with the hymns at church (you know, blended with about 150 other people) but I realized--also in high school--when a friend wanted me to sing with him, that I was way too shy to sing in front of people. (And I won't tell you about the time someone was covering their ear when singing next to me. I tried not to be offended...)
That left writing--which was my favorite one on the list anyway. I used to make my sister write stories with me instead of play. We were endlessly starting clubs together, and part of those clubs was that we'd have to write stories back and forth with each other. She never complained (maybe because I'm the oldest) and she always read everything I wrote (still does).
But there were three experiences that made me realize that I COULD be a writer.
1) Sophomore year of high school. We had a group project in history/English (combined class) where we could present our information any way we wanted. My group decided to write a soap opera and act it out (I know, acting. I had a bit part.) It was hilarious. We had the class bending over and almost crying because they were laughing so hard. It was awesome to help write something so entertaining.
2) Junior year of high school. We had to write an epigraph paper--so basically we had to find a quote that we loved and write a personal essay about that quote. I chose a quote from James M. Barrie: "Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." The I wrote about a time a group of us spent an evening with a friend's lonely grandpa, listening to his stories, drinking root beer, and having a great time. My teacher cried when she read it. I'd never had anyone cry when reading something I'd written. It really made me feel special.
3) Senior year of high school. We had to write personal essays again. It was a nice break after all of our lit crit essays we wrote to practice for the AP English test. I wrote an essay about a bike race between my sister and I that ended in disaster. I got it back and it had an A+ Great job!! and then he read it to the class. It was powerful having other people read and listen to something I wrote.
There are a lot of other experiences that continued to fan my writing flame into college and beyond and give me confidence that I could be a writer, but the KEY experiences all happened in high school--all three in my English classes. English teachers do have the power to help their students achieve their dreams. Mine will probably never know what an impact just a few words in an entire year of lectures and reading and discussing meant to me. I'm glad I'm a writer (and not a singer or an actor.)