Friday, August 26, 2011

The Spark That Got Me Writing

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:

a) Act
b) Sing
c) Write

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.)


  1. Wow! Who knew high school English classes could have such an impact? And sisters are the best. Mine still reads everything, too. :) Great spark story!!

  2. I had some great experiences with high school teachers, too. But I still for some reason felt like it was beyond my reach.

    I started out as an English major because of my high school teachers and then I went to SUU, and didn't like the two English classes OR the English teachers who taught them.

    BUT my writing skills served me well in poli sci.

    Part of me is sad that I didn't start writing sooner, and the other part of me knows how things like this kind of take over my life, so in that sense, it's probably good that I wasn't writing when my two kids were babies. They would have done a lot less cool stuff.
    Now my kids are older and easier to ignore.
    It's just different. Jack sits at the counter next to me with his legos and builds me bridges, and all sorts of fun things, and I write next to him. It's just easier, and I can't wait til my kids are in bed, because I'm exhausted and my husband always has lots to say.

    I'm rambling now.
    In your comments, lol.

    LOVE your story.
    LOVE your writing :D

  3. These are really great experiences. I wanted to sing, act or be a teacher. LOL.

    I had a teacher in fourth grade, that changed my life. It didn't have anything to do with writing, but she encouraged me in a way that made me realize I was smart and that I loved school.

    Love your story!

  4. My high school English teacher had an effect on me too. She made me feel talented and special. Apparently she also made my married principal feel special too because she had an affair with him and ran off together. Oh well. I love ur spark story though.

  5. I loved it when I went and read that essay to Jaimee's first grade class. The story about you and her crashing into each other on your bikes. They loved it too...Although, they all thought that the story was talking about me. Hmm...close enough! :D

  6. Ha ha ha - - I totally remember sitting around in our room writing stories. Yours were always better then mine though . . and I remember you would change mine to make them (what you thought was) better. Ha ha. But I didn't mind; mostly because I am younger and my stories were probably. . . immature. Writing was always your thing. I always wanted to play movie theater. :)

  7. School writing projects surely can have a profoundly inspire us as writers, and English teachers can make or break our love for the written word. I enjoyed your post very much.

  8. Hi, Kaylee! In 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade my best friend and I had a story club. I wrote the stories and she illustrated them. It was too fun!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  9. Yes, I would also choose writing over acting or singing (I have no talent in those areas and probably not much in writing either, but I keep trying). Your post on Down Syndrome stories really touched me. Thanks!

  10. You made your teacher CRY?! Gosh girl, you must have been good. Positive reinforcement from others can play such a crucial role in the life of an author. I'm glad you've had so many amazing moments!


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