It was Mrs. Barber's poetry club that did it. I remember the pastel drawing of my favorite stuffed monkey my mom drew for the front cover of my laminated poetry collection. I remember my rhyming poem about a fuddy duddy muddy buddy, my concrete poem about a rainbow, and my haiku about wind.
Even as a scrawny second grader with ragged pigtails and a freckled nose, I knew. Knew that words had power and emotion and life. Knew that stories lived inside me, and that words were the key to unlocking them.
Imagine. Believe. Write.
From second grade to my senior year of college, my answer to the recurrent, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question remained the same. I want to be a writer.
And there have been several mile markers along the journey that have affirmed I was headed in the right direction.
Mrs. Lunsford, my eighth grade language arts teacher, told my mom at a parent-teacher conference that I was the most talented young writer she had ever taught.
Mr. Allison, my favorite high school English teacher, wrote in my junior yearbook that I could be the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald, or whomever I wanted to be!
So my choice of college majors: Creative Writing, naturally. I declared it before even starting my first class at Cal State Long Beach and stayed true to my writer's dream my entire college career (unlike one of my roommates who fell into the typical majority and changed her major at least five times.)
Here I am...all grown up, and I spend a little time writing, journaling, blogging, but I often feel unworthy to call myself a "writer." I don't have a picture book with glowing illustrations displayed in the brightly colored nooks of Barnes and Noble. A collection of poetry with my name embossed on a book jacket is nowhere to be found. No novel or devotional or New York Times Bestseller.
Just a handful of rejection letters from a feeble attempt half a decade ago.
So how could I be a writer? I haven't lived up to the dream.
...and then these words from her precious heart resonate in mine:
"Sometimes I think we over glamorize writing.
We make it something that must reek of Hemingway, Lewis, or Lamott before we’re brave enough to share it.
You see I think the quiet secret is that you can be a writer and no one needs to recognize your name to make that any more or less true. I think your story matters. The one you write at midnight in 600 word blog posts. The one you scrapbook. The one you piece together for your kids as you fill them in on what grandpa and grandma were like.
You are a writer.
You actually already are."
It was as if Lisa-Jo wrote them just for me. These words that I have pasted in my Mother's Notebook, a place where I write.
Yes, I write.
So I'm learning, accepting, that it's not a dream or a degree, it's not praise or publication that makes me a writer.
I am a writer...because I write.
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Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for Five Minute Fridays where you write brave and bold each week while encouraging and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. I'm so thankful for your voice.