I was in fifth grade the first time I won a contest. None of my classmates knew about it. I did not even tell my parents. After an essay on the Civil War, my teacher, Mrs. Jones, quietly approached me and asked me to stay behind before lunch. She said she needed to speak with me about something. I was terrified, until she handed me my graded essay. I had passed with 110%. She then explained that there was a writing contest she wanted me the enter, as she felt I had the potential to do well. I entered and I won third place. She had been my editor. Until now, no one beyond that empty classroom, and the judges, knew about it.
I spent many teenage summers reading book after book. It helped me escape from a hormonal/ post mononucleosis depression I had encountered. I withdrew and found myself reading and writing for hours each day. Perhaps, for a hormonal and depressed teenager, Stephen King and Dean Koontz were not the best books to read, but they lined my bookshelves.
Short stories we wrote for school always landed me in the position of being forced to read them aloud to the class in a “final contest” of whose story was better. I usually came in second, but I spent more time writing about sadness then joy. I have since realized people enjoy happiness over a tear-jerker.
In college, I excelled at essays and research papers. In sociology, my professor asked me if I had ever considered creative writing courses. Assuming she meant I lacked critical skills necessary for college level writing, sociology papers specifically, I felt embarrassed. But she replied that she was highly impressed with an essay I wrote regarding society’s debilitating views on women and how it caused low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. She told me I would make an excellent magazine writer. Honestly, the idea of a magazine writer made me feel slighted. However, I was humbled that, once again, I was considered to be a good writer, at least in that context.
Two semester ago, I worked on a project with two other classmates. One of them contacted me to discuss our approach. She had mentioned that our professor had grouped us together, as we were “the two best writers in the class.” That had been a quote from our professor. A woman with a PhD had stated she felt I was one of the best writers in a class of about 30 people. Again, I felt that familiar blushing and humble satisfaction. Although, the part of me influenced by society’s rash views on women has left me wondering if my group member was merely fibbing to pump me up so we came out with a good grade. After all, people do perform better with positive reinforcement.
Within the last month, I wrote something, sent it to two dear friends, and they both told me it brought tears to their eyes. I cried myself, thinking maybe, just maybe, with a lot of editing, I could write the books I have randomly dart through my mind.
But I am afraid. I am afraid that there is no gift in me. I fear I will try and fail miserably. I fear that I am delusional and would have better chance at success in finding a cure to ADHD. Fear has held me back, as it holds far too many people back.
Dear Universe and God,
Please make me a writer. If I am a writer in hiding, help extinguish my deep fear of failure.