From crushing disappointment to finding my voice in a complex world of words…
The early creative years
In my early years, I always had a good imagination. Even though I had siblings, they were much older and had already flown the nest. Besides my cousins, I had only my imaginary friends to play with. Sounds sad, doesn’t it? Well, for me, it was not such a melancholic or lonely time. I created scripts in my head for each of the characters and their personalities were all unique. Doing this filled most of my early childhood days. Perhaps this was when my creative thoughts became rooted.Years later, my desire to write emerged strongly. I enjoyed writing letters and poetry. In the days of pen pals, I wrote to a pen pal in Belgium. We wrote to each other frequently, and it was something I loved. My passion for writing only grew from then on.
Now, to put this all in context for you. My grandfather was quite a prolific writer, and a published author, so in my heart, I believed that I could be just as good as he was. And why not? Oh, how wrong I was…
Writing my first fiction short story
I remember; it was in my fourth year of high school. My literature teacher gave us a class project to write a short story. The excitement rose in my chest and I could not wait to set pen to paper. The prospect of writing a story blew my mind. This was my time to show my true talent and have it endorsed by my teacher. Little did I know what was in store for me.It was time to begin my project. The short fiction story took form in my head — the characters, the plot, the scene, the problem, the anti-climax, the resolution. All the elements mapped out to form a wonderful story. Writing that story was an exhilarating period for me. I came to know my principal character so well; his name was Malcolm. His story was so well crafted, and I could tell it inside and out. From beginning to end Malcolm’s life developed before my eyes. I was quite pleased with the outcome.My parents were the first to read my story, and they seemed to like it, but really and truly, their opinion did not really count. The only opinion I needed to validate my work was my teacher’s.
Crushed by disappointment
Can you imagine how excited I was to submit my first piece of fiction? I cheerfully submitted my assignment and waited. The days crawled by as I impatiently expected my teacher’s feedback. This would be a defining moment for me; I felt it in my bones.Finally, the day arrived, and my teacher returned our graded stories. She spoke to each one of us and provided individual feedback. As I waited my turn, anxiety overtook me and butterflies fluttered wildly in my stomach.When she finally called me to her desk, all I could recall was the crushing disappointment when she uttered the words “not good enough”. That’s right. She told me that my story was not good enough. Those words kept ringing in my ears. My heart sank, and I felt utterly deflated. I was fourteen years old and my dreams of ever being a talented writer vanished with those three simple words.Teachers have the power to make or break a student. That day, my teacher broke me. Her words stayed with me forever, leaving me with lingering self-doubt in my capabilities. From this, I learned how to use my power as a teacher to build up my students rather than break them down.
How I built my self-confidence as a writer
I did not start writing again until years later when I became a teacher. My chosen genres at the time were mainly poems and songs. Words came easily to me and flowed onto paper freely. While not for many eyes, those who heard or read my pieces appreciated them. Writing became my emotional outlet, and this was when I produced my best pieces. Later, I used my writing skills to draft legal pleadings, yet another style of writing. In this forum, I steadily improved and my confidence grew.
Searching for my writer’s voice
Over the last two years, I wrote with a different purpose, determined to find my voice. A plethora of words constantly floats around in my head. They come to me when I am in the shower, or taking a walk and sometimes they awaken me from sleep. There is a story in there waiting to be told. Whether it is my story, Malcolm’s being retold or another, the words will one day find their way out. Recently, I found Medium, a judgment-free zone to explore my writing. At first, I was skeptical, but after reading other authors’ experiences; I took the chance. I have cast aside my writing fears and I am putting myself out there for the world to view and critique. I am no longer intimidated by rejection as I have learned that through failures you learn and grow. Through trial and error, I will forge forward. I am determined to find my writer’s voice in this complex world of words.
Share this post!