I am participating in the writing contest, You Deserve to Be Inspired, hosted by Positive Writer.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” my mother asked me when I was a kid. “An author,” I said. At that time, I was influenced by almost any books my older sister read when we were kids. And then my journal writing began when I was in the fifth grade and I became addicted to writing every day. Every now and then, I’d write a story or two. But why I wound up throwing them away, afterward, was beyond me. Perhaps the story ideas were just terrible or I feared embarrassment should someone discover what I’d written.
No matter, I stuck with my writing routine. I daydreamed. I wrote about what I liked, what I didn’t like, new ideas, etc. In high school, I had a novel in progress, but I never told anyone about it. I do remember rewriting it a few times. Ideas were constantly changing and I didn’t know how to go about it, sometimes. I was still unsure as to what I was going to do with it when and if it was done. Fear may have been holding me back. But what was scaring me?
When time passed, though, I put the story away, with the same idea that the story was terrible and wasn’t going to go anywhere, that the story was boring even me. In November 2014, however, I’d surprised myself by bringing that novel back, just with a new storyline. One year later—while I was tempted to quit dozens of times—the first draft was finally done. What an emotional rollercoaster it was while typing up the last few chapters.
In my mind, I was thanking those who encouraged me to keep writing, including those with negative comments. Yes, even those with negative comments because it made me think back to my sophomore year in high school. I don’t remember which class it was, nor do I remember the teacher’s name. During class, we were assigned something involving career choices. All I remember was that the instructions looked as if they were written in another language. Really, I could have asked questions, yet I was a bit of a lazy student. Also, I was the type who was often afraid of asking questions. So I marked off anything at random, with the assumption I knew what I was doing.
Afterward, the teacher had one-on-one discussions with us regarding the categories we selected. Once she looked over my work, she appeared confused by my answers, but then explained how the assignment was supposed to be done. Then she asked me a bunch of questions about my interests and that’s when I told her about my writing. I don’t recall every question she asked, but I remember her asking if I spoke more than one language. I said no. Every answer I’d provided to every question, in the end, forced her to look right at me and say, “Then you can’t be a writer.” This was coming from someone who’s never read anything I’ve written. I’ve had my share of teachers bullying me, but never has any one of them said what that teacher said to me. But the worst part was that I didn’t even defend myself. She must have thought I was a complete idiot. So I’d spaced out in class. Was I so terrible?
I never sulked about it, though, nor did I go home and cry to my mother. Perhaps I was realizing that that was only one person’s opinion. This teacher may not have been too fond of me, but that didn’t stop me from writing. In fact, I never did tell anyone what the teacher said. I suppose I really didn’t care what she thought.
So when the first draft of my novel was completed in October 2015, I thought, “I can’t be a writer, huh? Hmm, I don’t know. It may have taken a year of struggling, but somehow I did it.” And I’ll keep doing it. At times, I still can’t believe I made it happen. Who knows what’ll happen with my writing? But after seeing all the progress I’ve made, I realized it’s worth the hard work.
Throughout this writing journey, I’ve learned some things:
- People will have their own opinions and that’s okay. We can’t please everyone, so don’t let their words stop you.
- Even if you have ideas you feel are terrible, hold onto them, anyhow; they may be helpful in the future. Never did I expect to bring back that story I’d created years ago and actually finish it.
- Although we all struggle with a particular goal, it’s important that we believe in ourselves. We’ll get there, eventually.
So to my high school teacher—whose name escapes me—thanks for your words, because I’m still writing, no matter anyone’s opinions.