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Monday, February 13, 2006

Thoughts on Writing and Love for a Happy Valentine's Day!

I know that you remember. You can still feel the first warm rush of anticipation and ultimate satisfaction of that first encounter, the first time you met your love match. Any artist worth the name can point to that first time they knew they were in love with their art. They may have done it all of their lives, but there’s always that moment of revelation—the realization that they love what they do.

Not too long ago, I was discussing my writing pursuits with a co-worker in our break room. He’d asked me if I had homework for a class and I explained that I’m a writer. Talking to him and reflecting on the need to steal time for my art between work and kids led me to volunteer a memory. “I can remember the first time that I truly knew that I loved writing,” I stated.

I was in second grade and my young teacher, Miss Nelson gave us a writing assignment. We were to write a story on three-hole notebook paper skipping every other line to allow room for editing. I was slow to start. I had no idea where to begin. My imagination had stage fright. Miss Nelson suggested that I write about something using our school as the setting.

I sat and pondered a while longer. Eventually I began to write haltingly—not pleased with the outcome. Then it came to me. The name of the school was Lyon Street Elementary and there was a mural of a lion on the building—what if a lion really did come to our school? I scribbled furiously for 30 minutes or so.

It became a moment in the stillness of eternity. The lion escaped from the zoo. He found his way to the main courtyard. The principal ordered via intercom teachers and students to remain in the classrooms with the doors locked and blinds shuttered. Somehow, I became the hero and the lion went back to the zoo. Those details are lost to my logical adult mind.

I had been completely absorbed in the drafting of my story when Miss Nelson approached me to tell me that our writing time was ending. “How’s it going?” she asked. At this point, I proudly brandished at least ten pages of my large loopy newly learned cursive handwriting in front of me and as close to her nose as I could get. I clearly remember the look of consternation on Miss Nelsons face, which she quickly covered as my excitement began to wane due to her lack of response. When I handed her my sheaf of papers, she looked over the heavily erased and overwritten pages murmuring non-distinct phrases of encouragement. She advised me that I could finish it for homework. I barely noticed. I was absolutely euphoric. I had written my first story; Miss Nelson’s quick recovery had forestalled the ruin of my post creative zone high.

That day I discovered the power of pen and paper, of story telling. Words coupled with my imagination revealed a realm where I was completely free and in control, and also at my muse’s mercy. I’d discovered writing. I’d fallen in love.


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