My first story was written in crayon: a gruesome horror title The Fly and the Frog. Writing stories was as addictive as my mother's sugar cookies (oh, the dough). I penned them one after the other, my first grade teacher dutifully binding and laminating them all to display on the shelves at the front of the class. There were two shelves reserved for stories by students; my stories took up one of them. Titles included: The Valentine, The Caterpillar, Jamie McQueen Strikes Back, The Christmas Tree, Why Does Everyone Laugh at Sally?, Snakes, and more.
In middle school I composed my epic poem Turtle Wax, which had the honor of gracing the walls of my dentist's office. It also won the poetry competition at EFY, ahem.
In high school I took two semesters of creative writing from Ms. Hansen in high school. I worked on a still-incomplete fantasy novel (oh the shame that swells inside of my as I admit to writing a fantasy novel) about a princess who has the power to heal through touch (this super original idea was stolen by Rapunzel).
Then as a freshman in college I had the extreme luck of landing a spot in a creative writing class. I wrote nothing but crap in that class, but it was good fun. My junior year, I took a class on writing memoir. Again, I wrote nothing but crap in that class, and I was the only one to leave the room crying while reading a piece of my work aloud, but I think that was oddly liberating in a way. "There's at least one student every semester who leaves crying," my professor comforted me. Tom Plummer, you are wonderful.
My senior year of college, I decided to start a novel for my Honors thesis, and I declared English as my minor as an excuse to take every creative writing class I could. I also toyed with the idea of going to grad school for creative writing. When I went to talk to one of the faculty about it, the professor, a harsh octogenarian who taught fiction, asked, "Have you published anything?" "No," I replied ... unless you count my dentist's wall. "Then you probably won't make it into a graduate program." Crushed. Tom Plummer he was not. Even while I abandoned my immediate plans for graduate school in favor of a baby, I was still going to keep writing--however I could.
I encountered that discouraging professor again when he walked into a poetry class I was taking. My poetry professor was in the middle of reading one of my poems to the class, and he read it to the intruding professor.
"Isn't that a good poem?" my poetry professor rhapsodized in his pleasant as-close-to-British-as-you-can-get-while-still-being-American accent.
The fiction professor looked at me and smiled. He didn't recognize me--why should he? "That is a wonderful poem," he said. "Nice job."
And I felt happy.
More tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow as Fridays are for food.