Journal

I Didn’t Know I was a Writer

by | Mar 27, 2014 | Editorial

When I was in my late 20’s, I was teaching English and Spanish in a private religious high school.
I absolutely loved the work – and my students – but there had been some administrative changes in the school and I felt that I had to leave. I had several young children at the time and I wanted to find some other work that would be engaging but flexible and that I could do part-time so I could be with my kids. I knew that I might go back to teaching one day, but for now I sensed that there was something else “out there,” something else I was meant to do. I had no idea what. At the suggestion of friends I went to a career counselor at my local state university. She gave me a battery of tests that basically told me everything I already knew about myself. As I was getting ready to leave she suddenly asked me – for reasons I will never know – “What are you not telling me?” I sat back down.

I had a flash of myself reading to my daughters from a book they loved, a book I had written for a ninth-grade English assignment. It was the last piece of creative writing I had ever done up to that time. After that I had become a full-on, left-brained academic. And sitting there with the counselor I heard the voice of my beloved uncle saying, as he overheard me reading to my girls, “You missed your calling. You should be writing for children.”

At the time I had just smiled and gone on reading, but now I heard myself say words I didn’t know I’d been thinking.  “Well, I always thought that someday I’d take a course in writing books for children.”

And this very nice lady, whose name and face have long been lost to me in the mists of time, uttered these life-altering words: “Well, instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

And so I did.

I absolutely loved the work – and my students – but there had been some administrative changes in the school and I felt that I had to leave. I had several young children at the time and I wanted to find some other work that would be engaging but flexible and that I could do part-time so I could be with my kids. I knew that I might go back to teaching one day, but for now I sensed that there was something else “out there,” something else I was meant to do. I had no idea what. At the suggestion of friends I went to a career counselor at my local state university. She gave me a battery of tests that basically told me everything I already knew about myself. As I was getting ready to leave she suddenly asked me – for reasons I will never know – “What are you not telling me?” I sat back down.

I had a flash of myself reading to my daughters from a book they loved, a book I had written for a ninth-grade English assignment. It was the last piece of creative writing I had ever done up to that time. After that I had become a full-on, left-brained academic. And sitting there with the counselor I heard the voice of my beloved uncle saying, as he overheard me reading to my girls, “You missed your calling. You should be writing for children.”

At the time I had just smiled and gone on reading, but now I heard myself say words I didn’t know I’d been thinking.  “Well, I always thought that someday I’d take a course in writing books for children.”

And this very nice lady, whose name and face have long been lost to me in the mists of time, uttered these life-altering words: “Well, instead of someday, why don’t you do it now?”

And so I did.

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