In the third grade, I discovered that the books I loved to read were written by actual people. I am not sure where I thought books and stories came from before I discovered this, but it was an important moment for me. I remember standing by Mrs. Hill, my third grade teacher, as she created a bulletin board. I asked her what the bulletin board was for and she told me we were going to publish our stories. She told me that all the books I read were written by people just like me. I was astounded. She also told me I was going to write and publish my very own book.
The day she posted my book on the bulletin board was the first day I considered myself to be a writer. My first story was about a bird who had lost its family. I designed the cover for my book and made my book in the shape of a bird. After school, I went home and told my mom I wanted to be a writer. She immediately bought me a large yellow legal pad and some sharp new pencils, and I began writing.
Over the years, I have filled up spiral notebooks, binders, and bound journals with my writing. My writing has gotten me through tough times–when I was stuck in dead-end jobs with no way out, when I lost teaching jobs, when I was sad or depressed. At times, I have stopped writing, but no matter how long I stay away from writing, I always come back to it.
When I write, I can express ideas that I am sometimes afraid to say out loud. I can be me without the fear of judgment or criticism. I can tell stories, state my opinions, and explore new ideas. Writing makes me happy and inspires me to improve.
Whenever I think about giving up writing because I am discouraged or it feels too hard, I think back to Mrs. Hill and the day I became a writer, and I realize that writing isn’t just something I do. It’s a part of who I am.