When I was in the third grade, I hated English class. I couldn’t understand the grammar and usage lessons. I was horrible at punctuation. And reading was just a jumble of letters on the page that didn’t make any sense. I tried to hide it, but amazingly enough, the teacher saw me struggle and called my mom.
After some testing, they diagnosed me with dyslexia and poor reading comprehension. I had to attend resource classes to help me deal with my learning problems. And my mother, who worked full time as well as took care of us kids, the house, and my dad full time, made time in her busy day to work on my reading comprehension problem.
I loved books as long as someone read them to me. But I hated reading because I could never understand what was going on. But with the help of Mrs. Stieg, I learned how to deal with the dyslexia and with the help of my mom and Laura Ingalls Wilder, I managed to conquer my reading comprehension problem. I learned to love reading and became a voracious reader.
In fifth grade, I learned the love of writing. We had a district wide creative writing contest and I entered it. I only received a participant ribbon, but it was satiny white and the first award I ever won. And I continued with my writing.
Through middle school, high school, and college, I wrote for newspapers and literary magazines. I thought myself a poet at first and entered many poetry contests as well as submitted my poems to various poetry magazines and literary journals. I never won any contests and have a folder file full of rejection slips. Still I write.
Soon I also wrote short stories. I submitted some of these as well, receiving rejections too, but I also submitted one to a contest and received third place. There was no money for third, just a certificate, but it was enough. Just being validated as a writer was all I needed.
Then I got my first job in writing, as a reporter for a small newspaper. At first it was exciting. Meeting new people, hearing their stories, and writing about them for the paper. I also kept up with my creative writing at home. It seemed like I was writing nonstop.
But as the years passed and work became more stress and less fun, my creative writing began to suffer. I hardly picked up a pen, let alone turned on the word processing software on my computer.
As a reward for my article writing, my editor gave me my own column where I could write what I wanted within reason. My love of writing surged back and I enjoyed thinking up ideas and writing my opinions about them. I was also able to do some creative writing for a serial story in the Newspapers In Education section of the paper.
But then I began getting criticism for my opinion columns. Not constructive criticism mind you, but out and out hate on topics I wrote on, topics that stayed away from politics and religion and focused on my life, such as dogs, writing, family, community service, and so on. I did have my fans, people who enjoyed my column and told me so often. But it was the people who complained that wore me down. They complained about my writing style, they complained about the space my column took up, they complained about my topics. And when my column wasn’t in the paper, they would complain about that as well. It just got to be too much and in the end, I gave up the column and writing became a chore again.
With the loss of my job due to budget cuts and downsizing, I decided to go back to writing. I decided to reclaim my creative soul. I began keeping a notebook journal of writing. My thoughts on it, some poetry, and story idea.
I began to do some soul searching. Let me tell you, soul searching is exhausting, time consuming work. But there is no shortcut, no quick fix, no fast forward button to get the job done.
It takes a lot of sifting, sorting, keeping and discarding to get to the important layers, to get to the heart of the problem and to the solutions, whatever they may be.
And what I discovered is my love of writing.