Looking back, I’m not sure when I fell in love with writing. I have a story I wrote in second grade framed in our office. It tells of an elf with a wife who couldn’t have babies. This fact made them quite sad. But then one day she had one and everything in their world went right again. My story received a big red star by my teacher and my mother somehow saved it all these years. It wasn’t a thing of genius but it’s evidence of a start.
In third grade, I discovered poetry. We did a whole series on writing poetry, making booklets of poems we found in magazines. Our booklet covers were made out of wallpaper. I found a simple poem about a boy who always teased a girl in school, until Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day, he revealed his truest intentions. He wanted her for a Valentine. I adored that little poem and it has never left me. For years after, I processed my emotions by writing poems in no way worthy of publication.
Certainly, reading always served as a companion to my writing efforts. I don’t see how the two could not go hand in hand. In elementary school, I’d often get selected to attend an “Author’s Day” at a nearby university. We’d hear various authors speak and get a chance to have them autograph our books. I’d never met someone so famous in my whole life!
In fourth grade, we wrote plays. I went to another teacher’s class for reading and she took such great delight in what must have been less than mediocre theater. My first attempt at newspaper writing also started this school year, covering everything from friendship bracelets to sleepovers.
I entered a local writing contest in fifth grade. A story about a young girl who died suddenly. She had a conversation up in heaven about all that she was seeing. Everything made sense to her now! She wondered why she couldn’t go back down to earth and tell her loved ones about what she knew now. God explained to her it just didn’t work like that.
In high school, a local junior college held an annual writing days event. Two students from each grade were picked to attend each year. I went three out of four years.
My freshman year, I enrolled in an honors English class. We didn’t do much, if any, creative writing. We’d read classics and write papers analyzing them. What did they symbolize? How did they use metaphor? Honestly, I don’t remember what we had to write about because it was all foreign to me. Writing in a way I had never done before.
I got back one of our papers early on and it was all marked to heck. Through the sea of red and perhaps a few tears of embarrassment, I saw the lowest score I’ve ever gotten on an English paper in my life. The professor jotted a note as well: See me about this.
Apparently, I hadn’t been trained in writing this kind of paper. Throughout the semester, my grades improved slightly and I received a B as a final grade in the class.
My whole life, I’d been a super confident writer and I’d just been given a B in English. That fact settled somewhere inside of me. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be an author after all. Why did I remember that one low point more than I remembered my successes?
Rejection affects us. I’ll admit I don’t take it well. We read things like this:
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 homeruns.
Abraham Lincoln ran for three major elections and lost before being elected as President.
Long before I started blogging, I had a career in public relations and marketing. A whole lot of writing. I met with some success during my years in this profession. But one of my dreams lie dormant. I wanted to be a published writer
If I’m being perfectly honest, I wondered if I had what it takes. I remembered those papers in honors English, all marked up in red in ink. The year I got a B in English.
A few times over the years, I’ve submitted magazine articles for consideration. Not knowing what I was doing and sending them off basically blind. I have a few rejection letters to show for my efforts.
But here’s what I’ve learned and where I’m focused moving forward. Rejection is part of the process. Writing, just like any other craft, takes a lot of hard work to meet with any success. Success by the world’s standards anyway. When am I going to stop listening to any other voice save the one that says:
I made you a writer.
I’m thankful for blogging because it allows me to practice. The best way I’ve found to write better is to write more. I'm not sure I'll ever learn how to write academically. However, I can tell my story. And yours. God lays these words on my heart. I know this because they keep on coming. Many of you read these words week after week. Your feedback reassures me.
There will always be other writers who write better; no, scratch that, different from me. I can learn from them.
With wobbly, shaky legs, I tell myself again and again, you can do this. You are doing this! One of my goals for 2016 was to have pieces published in other places than on my blog. In January, I wrote this piece for CBE International. I’ve also written a few pieces like this one for Circling the Story. In January, I also submitted four other pieces. One in a contest. Three submitted for possible publication. I never heard a word back on any of these pieces.
But the next time I might.