If you’ve ever wanted to get to know me better, come on in and read today’s post! I’m going way back to the beginning of my life to share a big creative piece of the puzzle (in a summary) of my journey towards becoming an artist and writer. (If you missed part 1 that talks about my decision to reclaim my life as an artist, click HERE to catch up). As I’ve mentioned here before, creativity and I go WAY back. When I was going through the contents of my life several years ago, I found so much “evidence” of me claiming myself as an artist and wanting to be THAT when I grew up. (On a side note I also wanted to be a teacher, which I get to do in unique ways now through this blog and workshops or mentoring I do.)
Think for a minute about how EASY it is to be a child and state what we want to be when we grow up. We have permission to dream big and can say anything we want– even things like being the president or an astronaut or a ballerina and no one laughs at us and tells us we can’t. We are encouraged to nurture our dreams as we learn and grow and then somewhere along the line, it becomes about impressive titles and money. Maybe it doesn’t happen to everyone, but I know for myself it got confusing. You become an honor student, they ask you to state your career that you are going to college for on stage during an National Honor Society ceremony, and you feel the pressure to pick something that sounds impressive. A “real” job. At 18 years old you are supposed to know what the heck you are going to do for the rest of your life. If you said you wanted to be a ballerina or a poet or an astronaut then, I am sure you would get more than a few raised eyebrows.
At some point along the way I found myself leaving my art and poetry behind (thinking that could be a hobby only) to try to find myself at college and learn a “real” trade. But that is a story for a different day. This is the story about coming back to myself. Coming full circle so to speak. Is it so crazy to be what you always wanted to be when you were a child?
My Background as a Writer:
In first grade I started writing my first Children’s stories. Looking back now, I realize I wasn’t like other children. Of course then, being stuck in my little fantasy world, I was oblivious to the fact that I was different and I didn’t care.
An example- I can remember going off to girl scout camp in either first or second grade and spending my spare time in the tent writing these children’s books by flashlight. I have never liked to go to bed, even back then. The rain was beating on the canvas tent and I was writing a story called “Whisper and the Wind” (which was a story about a white Persian cat who was sort of lonely and made friends with the wind. I had a thing about nature being able to communicate with you). I wrote a second story called “The Tale of the Fearful Menace” (only I spelled Menace “menice” and he wasn’t actually fearful, he made other people in the village fearful because he was a villain. That was my child brained way of articulating that, ha!)
In third grade I discovered my love of poetry when my teacher at Cascades Elementary School, Mrs. Ray, had us write a poem for an assignment. My poem was called “The Rain”. Even then I waxed poetic about rain beating on the window. It has always been a favorite of mine. Someday I will publish a collection of the poetry and short stories I wrote from my elementary school years. It will probably be a hoot! Anyway, third grade started my love affair with poetry.
I kept a poetry book after that and continued to write as a hobby in my spare time. I wrote most prolifically in middle and high school, and then the poetry tapered off a bit until I started this blog and got back to it! My poetry was a lyrical diary of my life and I kept it in my backpack like a journal. I would sort through my preteen and teenage emotions of bullies, life stuff, boys and love/crushes, nature and my faith (God) by writing poems. I would do this in the middle of classes I was bored in (truth be told I didn’t pay attention in class nearly as often as I should have by the time I was in high school. I would often read a novel or poetry book, doodle, write poetry or write letters to friends instead. Yet thankfully I still managed to pass all my tests and get A’s and B’s). English and Art classes were the two classes I always paid attention in. One time when I was like 17, a high school boy named Greg saw my poetry book/journal and grabbed it. We got in to a real tug of war because there was no way in heck I could have him seeing all my private teenage emotions! Talk about Mortifying! I won. Thank goodness!
In regards to poetry, sometime in elementary school my mom watched the movie Anne of Green Gables with me and Anne Shirley became my heroine. It was that character and the way she would recite poetry that inspired me to memorize and recite poetry. (this is one reason why I am very big on books and children’s literacy) Starting in about the 5th grade I would go to the library and check out books by Alfred Lord Tennyson (the Lady of Shalott), Alfred Noyes (The Highwayman), William Wordsworth and Robert Burns (my love is like a red, red rose). This is another thing that I now realize was quirky about me 😀 . I used to love the romantic quality of these old poems and could get lost for hours reveling in the beauty of the words.
Emily Dickinson sums up how I felt best in this poem:
“Have you got a brook in your little heart where bashful flowers blow? And blushing birds go down to drink, and shadows tremble so?
And nobody knows, so still it flows, that any brook is there, and yet your little draught of life is daily drunken there.”
And truly, that is they way my growing up years were. While I was VERY social ( I got in trouble often at school for socializing with friends during class), I was also an introvert who spent a lot of time in this dream world. It was my secret world of solitude and no one really knew much about it. Especially my class mates. I liked it to be private like that. Besides, I didn’t know any other kids my age who read and memorized this sort of stuff.
In high school I took as many English and Language Arts related classes as I could. Poetry class, creative writing, journaling class, etc. etc. My favorite English teacher, Mrs. Hayes, inspired me a lot. While in her class I toyed with the idea of becoming an English professor one day in the poetry or creative writing area. Later on I decided that wasn’t quite the direction I wanted to go. I did enter some poetry contests in Mrs. Hayes class in High School and a couple of my poems won and got published in an anthology. Then there was the time a crappy poem of mine won a contest and got an award in my 20’s, but that is a funny story for another day.
When I was unpacking more boxes today, I found one of the goofy stories I wrote in English class. I tried to find my very first story from first grade, but no luck yet. In the meantime you may get a chuckle out of my version of “Little Boy Blue” . I sure did!
Back to present day-
Of course my blog is my biggest writing project now. My range as a writer has grown so much just by having this blog. I have found a versatility in my writing that I didn’t know I had, such as writing professional articles with tips and how to’s and things for brands or companies, a wide variety of poetry styles (from religious, to silly, to whimsical fairy stuff, to nature inspired), motivational and inspirational pieces, and story telling. As a writer I LOVE story telling.
What does the future have in store for me?
I am not yet sure. That is part of the adventure!! 😀 I dream of possibilities of things I’d like to do and there are many things. I dream of publishing children’s books and reading them to children in the library or in schools. I dream of publishing inspiring poetry books and self help books for adults where my words will comfort and uplift people. I dream of maybe being a journalist, or writing a column for a newspaper and especially writing some articles for my favorite magazines. I dream of working with large brands and getting paid to do some more freelance writing.
Will these things happen? I don’t know, but they are already happening on some level ( so then my answer is yes, why not?) . I have been paid to do a couple freelance writing pieces since starting this blog. I have had my work in the classroom, even if it wasn’t myself reading it. All of these little milestones show me glimpses of the future and encourage me to keep going to see what may occur next. Of course, you’re here with me on this journey of possibility and if you are reading this I am very grateful indeed. Stay tuned for the next post in this series on Reclaiming myself as an artist. Part 3 will be about my background as an Artist specifically.
Thank you for living inspired along with me,