So let me tell you a story about a girl who was told she couldn’t write…
Growing up I always wanted to be a writer. An avid reader, I aspired to write my own novel one day. I wrote in journals, I tried to write poetry, I wrote long letters to friends and eventually boyfriends, and at one point I attempted to write a novel. Looking back on my 13-year-old self I have to say I’m proud of her realistic expectations. I remember thinking I had no idea how to write an entire book so I would simply start with a chapter. I called myself “a romantic chapterist”. I even dared to hand out copies of those chapters to my friends to get their feedback. I wasn’t quite sure what would ever come of my writing but I always knew it made me happy to write out some of the millions of thoughts swirling around in my busy brain.
I wrote less fiction in high school but continued to vent out my hormone-induced emotions in my journals. My aspiration to become a novelist was not one that would immediately pay my bills so I was steered toward a career in education. I could become an English teacher instructing others how to write and appreciate literature and I could write in my spare time. I went off to college and loaded up my freshman year schedule with English classes.
And then I was given some bad news.
About midway through that first semester I had a meeting with my Comp & Prose professor to review my submissions thus far. I don’t remember all of the details of that meeting. I couldn’t tell you where it was held, what she looked like, or even her name. I do remember, however, her words: “I’m not sure you have the innate talent to become a published author.” She then gave me some more specific feedback. I remember some of it, “excessive details, not enough dialogue, no character development, etc. etc.” But I mostly remember a buzzing in my brain, the sound of my heart beating in my ears, and the almost immediate urge to give up. And that’s exactly what I did. I gave up my dream.
I changed majors and powered through the rest of college a Psychology major. All of the writing I did was in the form of research papers. I went on to graduate school and learned how to be a clinical speech-language pathologist. I learned how to write reports detailing the findings of assessments I administered, documenting data I had collected, relaying behavioral observations I had made. I never wrote for fun. I stopped writing in journals. I never considered myself a writer again.
A friend of mine at work reached out to me as a favor to one of her friends. Her friend was working to push through legislation at the state level to mandate paid family leave for those who needed to take time off from work to care of a family member. Her commission was looking for testimonials from folks who had been forced to take unpaid time from work because of a family medical emergency and I had recently supported my daughter after back surgery, taking the time off from work unpaid. I happily wrote up my story and submitted it to Michelle.
Michelle was also the founder of a parenting blog, CT Working Moms. She loved my submission and asked me if I would consider writing for her site. But…I wasn’t a writer. But…I really, really, really, wanted to write. Writing that one blog post about my daughter’s surgery was exhilarating. The words flowed from me easily and I wrote pages and pages forcing me to ruthlessly edit content to meet the word limit. And the feedback I received from sharing my story? Incredible. Energizing. I felt like using my voice had actually made a difference. My words helped someone else. They helped a lot of people, actually. And that made me feel so freaking good.
So I said yes to Michelle even though I had no idea what I was doing. I started to write. I shared over 100 posts for CT Working Moms. I eventually even started to manage the blog so Michelle could take a step back. After about a year of posting regularly I finally added the word “writer” in my bios for my social media platforms. I am a writer.
After an incredible run, CT Working Moms is no longer publishing new content. I took a break from writing feeling as if my words had run dry. I was overwhelmed at work and with parenting and needed the break. You can access my posts for CTWM here as well as those from many other amazing writers.
So I’m back. I’m now a writer who has some more words to say. I plan to write about aging, parenting these beautiful young ladies I now have in my home, my marriage, and how I’m coping and experiencing life as a forty-something woman living and working in New England. I’m so excited to share with you. I hope my words can help someone, maybe make someone think, or simply make someone smile.