When I was little – 3rd or 4th grade – I wanted to be a paleontologist. At age 9 I knew everything there was to know about dinosaurs. I’d spend hours at the Museum of Natural History studying their dinosaur exhibition.
So when my 5th grade teacher gave us the assignment of writing and illustrating our own books to then share with the 2nd graders at the school, of course I chose dinosaurs as my topic.
We came up with the story text and our teacher typed it up, one or two sentences per page with room on top for illustrations. When we came back from recess, she had our pages ready for us to come up with illustrations for.
The next day, much to my delight, a GBC-bound copy of my ‘book’ complete with plastic cover was on my desk waiting for me. Over the next several weeks, all I wanted to do was go through my book, reading it aloud to anyone who would listen, admiring the way my writing looked and sounded, brought to life by my drawings.
That one project set me off on a year-long book writing kick. Everything I did or saw or experienced had to be turned into a book, bringing my parents such treasures as “Ticks, Ticks and More Ticks,” my first non-fiction work.
Authoring turned into journal writing and then, in middle school, song writing: hits such as “You Yused To” (unfortunately my spelling never got much better). In high school, however, writing became a most dreaded form of torture – boring term papers and book reports, grammar exercises, and the monotonous copying of vocabulary words.
College wasn’t much better. Though the paper topics became more interesting, by the time I’d finished all the required writing, there was no juice left to do any leisure writing. Though I did manage to keep up with my journaling.
This high school and college-inspired writing slow down made room for other interests, and before I knew it, my writing aspirations were replaced with dreams of becoming a Broadway actress.
But I quickly realized that the harsh world of the performing arts as a career was not where I wanted to be. So I headed back to university to see what else I could find.
This time, I chose Renaissance history, a topic that interested me greatly. It was here that I was reminded that writing was fun. I loved writing term papers. All I wanted to do was research and analyze and edit and rewrite until I had come up with the perfect paper that I felt did justice to the topic at hand.
When I married a Dutchman and found myself in the Netherlands, there was so much that the language barrier kept me from doing. But, thanks to the internet and the large international community here, writing was not one of them. Soon I was writing every spare moment I had and loving every minute of it.
It was during this time that I thought, “You know, I could make a living doing this!” It was something I enjoyed that I was good at and the thrill I feel every time I see my work published reminds me of that day I saw my dinosaur book lying on my desk in the 5th grade.
To this day that feeling makes me shake my head and chuckle as I whisper to myself “I should have known I was meant to be a writer.”
When did you realize you were meant to be a writer? What kinds of things have you always enjoyed writing about?
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