I am a writer— have the brain of a writer. Many events throughout my lifetime have molded me into the writer I am today. It’s inescapable, always has been. The choice was never mine. The ‘Powers that Be’ bestowed upon me a gift of words— the ability to put words together in my own unique way.
It started in fourth grade with a sudden insatiable appetite for reading, which became a compulsion to put pen to paper. My teacher introduced me to poetry that year (1978). Mid-term she announced a school-wide poetry contest. Verse captivated me as a flame captivates a moth. Entering the contest was not an option. The composition would be a big chunk of the final grade for that semester. I was thrilled. I would exercise my new found obsession for words. I worked tirelessly every night for the better part of two weeks.
Submission day arrived; I was beside myself in anticipation. I was more than pleased with my creation. I could barely contain my enthusiasm to recite it before the entire class. Most importantly, I wanted to impress my teacher—she was (and is to this day) a mentor to me. How rewarding it was, standing at the head of the class sharing with them the words that I had birthed. When I finished, the whole room proliferated in thunderous applause. My teacher, however, remained stoic, not moving from behind that big desk that separated her from the peasants. I was confused and a bit dumbfounded by her reaction, or lack thereof. When the dismissal bell sounded, I quickly lay down my paper with the others on the corner of that big desk, and went home.
That night, I couldn't eradicate the vision from my mind’s eye. That blank look haunted me; it said absolutely nothing. Around eight o’clock, the phone rang. My haunting would soon turn to disgust, and then just plain anger. It was my beloved mentor calling to inform my mother that I was a rogue and a phony. I all but fell on the floor. What the heck—how could she say such a thing?
According to my teacher, the poem handed to her was penned on a consummate level. It was good…too good. In fact, it was excellent. No average fourth grade student, as I, could compose such an introspective and meticulously written piece. Surely, I had either copied it from somewhere (plagiarism…me?), or had assistance from someone much more mature. Collectively, my family was outraged; they knew of the time and effort I had put into constructing what I believed to be the best lyrics I could produce. To my teacher, I was a liar, a phony, and a cheater—no amount to rationalizing would convince her otherwise. I tried showing her some other pieces of my work—nothing mattered, she had made up her mind. She gave me a big, fat zero for the semester, but the deal was sealed.
It took my quite a while to get over the whole incident, but once I did…I knew what I was meant to be—a writer (not a poet, poetry is too complicated. Though I do sometimes write a line here and there, poetry is not my gig).
So now, here I am. Thanks to the World Wide Web, instead of living the life of a struggling want-to-be author, I’m able to share my writer’s mind with those who are in need. I’m able to supply a service, while at the same time, feed my own need to construct the written word into something significant. It’s a wonderful thing! Getting a paycheck to do something I love is pretty wonderful too.