Friday, March 23, 2012

When The Marker Broke Ground.

How old were you when you discovered you were a writer?


I was 9. Like most people who've moved into adulthood in pursuit of the writing dream, it started for me when I was a kid. Many trace their first writing success to the school room and their stories are much like mine.

One Friday afternoon in grade 4, our teacher commissioned us to write a story in honour of his son's first birthday that weekend. The writer with the best story would receive a piece of cake on Monday morning as their reward.

I was not a sweet tooth, so the prize interested me less than the task.

Write a story...

I don't have a copy of of what I wrote that day, and all I remember is the quirky detail of making my narrator the cake itself. This impressed my teacher enough to award me the prize and true to his word, produced a slice of sponge cake wrapped in a cream blotched serviette for me, just after Monday's assembly.

That's it. No other memory itself. No dog-eared copy in a box of childhood treasures. Only the buzz of creating something to share with a reader remained.

Fixed in me as sure as any marker on the landscape of my world, that moment set my course. It was a year of many markers. I gave my heart to God that year too, and learned to write with an ink fountain pen.

I like to look at myself back then as someone gathering loose threads for a future project. A little writing encouragement, the beginning of a life changing faith journey, and the delight of all things 'old-fashioned.' But I'm a romantic and tend to fix things in such a way they have a soft focus around the edges and rose petals scattered on the ground. Ok, maybe not the rose petals...

Still my memory serves me well to have an age for when I knew writing was a part of who I am.

How old were you, when the marker broke ground? When you discovered writing, be it fiction or non-fiction, would shape your days?

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Dorothy Adamek writes Historical Romance. 
This month she's been doing the March-photo-a-day challenge.
 Visit her at her blog Ink Dots.

26 comments:

  1. Hi Dorothy. Today youve helped me remember the first thing I wrote that was more than a boring school assignment at which I never excelled. I wrote a poem a few months after my Dad died. It wasn't about Dad. It was wrenched out of me when I found out that our cattle property would be sold. So today's revelation is my writing is birthed in passion rather than love of words. It is also part of my deep desire to influence people's lives. Thanks for the revelation. Jo

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    1. Hi Jo, I'm glad you dug into a tender time and found something to celebrate. I guess passion and a love of words can be so closely woven we don't know where one stops and the other starts. I'm sure your writing will continue to influence many readers! Blessings. :)

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  2. I used to love writing my creative essays in school. But I never received outstanding grades, so I figured I wasn't any good. Kept my writing as a hobby for many years. It wasn't till I was in my 30s that I realised I actually could do it, and do it well.

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    1. I really like that. As well as being a marker for you, that story may those those in positions of authority, ie education department, that the tiniest bit of encouragement may mark the beginning of a great life's work for somebody.
      For me, I was about 6 or 7. I didn't enjoy all the lessons, but whenever the teacher announced that we'd be writing stories, my heart would soar. I remember getting instant ideas and scribbling away with no concept of writer's block. I also remember teachers telling my parents that I had a fertile and unique imagination for such a quiet little girl. That used to surprise me for 2 reasons. 1) I couldn't understand why it wasn't as easy for those grumblers to come up with stories 2) I wondered why they seemed to be insinuating that they wouldn't expect quiet people to have imagination.
      Thanks for the great post, Dotti.

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    2. Ooops, typo in first line. I meant to write "help" those or "show" those.

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    3. Amanda, I'm so glad your teacher's didn't put you off! Obviously you were meant to do what you're doing, and nothing was going to stop you. xx

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    4. Lol, Paula :) Imagine quiet people having no imagination! If only they knew what stories spun around your head when they thought you were having a 'quiet' moment! :)

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  3. I remember that my grade 3 teacher wrote a three-page report effusing about my writing, when she only had to write one page. I was a bit miffed actually, since I detested English and esteemed maths and science. I eschewed her advice and became a geeky engineer. Now, some forty years later, I'm thinking she might have been onto something.

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    1. And you didn't want a backwards seat in that time machine, Peter! I'm sure there's lots from your 'geeky' engineering life which has shaped your writing and made you who you are today. Nothing's wasted. Especially the 40 years between then and now. :)

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  4. I must have been 9 or 10. I used to carry around a notebook scribbling feverishly into it all the time, when I was 10 years old, says Mum. I loved writing essays in school. I foolishly chose to follow Science in school in mu higher studies - for all the wrong reasons. (Smart girls chose Science over Arts! Silly me) So it wasn't for another 40 years that I heeded God's call to become a writer. Am so glad I did. It's brought me so much joy and fulfillment. At last I am doing what I was meant do do.

    Thanks Dorothy for your lovely post.
    Blessings,
    Anusha

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  5. Wow, Anusha, you and Peter share the love of writing and a 40 year science detour! So glad you found your way to the world of Humanities and Arts in the end. Blessings :)

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  6. I can imagine you writing at an early age. I too, began early. I was a very shy child in a two teacher country school and reading took me to places I only imagined. I wrote excitement into my life and through my little stories I visualised myself to be, gay and popular, quite the opposite to what I was. Love to you. x

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    1. I hear you, Crystal Mary! Reading was my escape too, and took me to so many places!! xx

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  7. Hello again Dorothy, I have joined this site. How can I have my photo on the side bar and my book in the new releases?? Crystal Mary Lindsey

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    1. Lee Franklin is the wonderful 'mother hen' here. If you're not already a facebook friends, you need to find her and 'friend' her. Lol :) She'll tell you what you need to do to get your information here. xx

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  8. I was thrilled when one of my grade three compositions was put on display in the library. I hadn't thought much about the story when I wrote it, but i remember I used a lot of imagination when telling it. I didn't realise then that it was the beginning of my writing. I didn't actually get to serious writing until some twenty years later. Thanks for asking the question and provoking the thought.

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  9. Hi Meredith, I think many primary teachers have done us a great service and encouraged the writing gift within. I wonder how many have been found years later, to thank and 'fill in' on the intervening years and successes. :) That's something l would like to explore, without creeping out the poor guy too much!

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  10. My sister likes to remind me of all the stories I made up for her and my younger brother during baby-sitting duty.

    I remember writing a story in fourth or fifth grade about an elephant. That got me going. Then in high school, my English/Drama teacher was also my grandmother's best friend. In fact she lived over the road from us.

    She encouraged me to write, and in fact still asks family members whether I do.

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  11. Wow, Lee! That's great, your grandmother's friend is around to hear of your success and wonderful input into the world of Australian Christian writers. She should be very proud to have encouraged you!

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  12. Thanks for your nostalgic post, Dottie. My computer is still limping along after crashing with a virus, so I'm not even sure if this will post!
    I remember enjoying what we called composition in school, but the first novel I ever wrote was when my young son was keen about space and astronauts. It was called the Adventures of Captain Crewcut, and 5-year-old Mike illustrated it in fine detail. Never thought of getting it published, but kids around that era probably would have loved the impossible advenures of its hero!

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    1. I hope your computer troubles are over soon, Rita. What a great memory you and your son share! Writer and illustrator. I hope, unlike me, you have a copy to show the next generation of budding artists! Blessings :)

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  13. well I am rather different from most of you. Thinking back, I did once do a good poem in grade 3. And tried to start at story in senior high school.
    I did start a few stories never really feeling they would amount to much, just something for me to do in my spare time.

    In reality is was reading some books and thinking maybe I could do this. Reading about queries and synoposis (thank you Dee Henderson for her site info) Then I was writing but didn't know where it was really headed if anywhere.

    Then started with a devotional article being published, some of my short stories being loved. Encouragement on a writer's site. So here I am in my mid thirties and about to get my first book published in an ebook format.

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    1. Congratulations on your small steps of success in those early years, to where you are now, Melanie. Encouragement along the way is so important, isn't it? We are blessed to be able to share that here at CWD everyday. Blessings, Dotti :)

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  14. Dotti, like you I was in Grade 4 when my teacher took me aside and told me I had a real gift for writing. Can't even remember what I wrote! But I loved writing even before then. My Grade 10 English teacher also gave us an assignment to write our life story, she commented "Some of your work reads just like a novel!" and I just knew she was talking about me (she'd been reading over our shoulders as we were busily writing)!!!! I was able to thank her and show her Footprints and my first book at my 20 year high school reunion, she had tears in her eyes :-)



    I always loved writing letters and had multitudes of penfriends even as an adult. But it wasn't til I was a SAHM of two tiny tots that I got a book from the library that made me realise I could try my hand at freelance writing for magazines without having a degree in journalism. I've never looked back!!!!

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  15. Wow, Janet! That's some achievement, and what an honour for your yr 10 English teacher to see the fruit of her work, so many years later!! So glad you've chased your childhood dreams. You're blessing so many with Footprints :) Keep up the amazing work!!

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