The Reluctant Writer

Writing is my preferred manner of communication. Yet, I share it reluctantly. My fear of revealing who I am goes back to events in high school. Social media in those days were notes passed between friends. I was writing poetry and penned one about a boy I had a crush on. Carolyn betrayed me by giving him the poem and of course it got handed around. I stopped writing poems. I didn’t trust that I could have kept them private in a journal. Another friend’s mother read her diary. As the eldest of five, it’s doubtful that my mother had the time or interest in doing that. But I couldn’t risk anyone reading my deepest feelings.

A writing assignment in my junior year of high school was to create a limerick. To remind you, a limerick should be a humorous poem of five lines that have a verbal rhythm that is easy to remember and fun to repeat. I could do that. I handed in my homework. The next day our teacher wanted to read the best poems from the assignment. He started reading, “There once was a girl from my township,” and I recognized it was mine. It met the required seven to ten syllables for the first line. I thought that would be all he’d read. I wrote three stanzas, not one as required, about this anonymous girl “who gave up toys”. He read the entire poem. “Boys” was the rhyming word further in the limerick and revealed my teenage self once more. It was humorous. “Poignant” was part of the feedback from my teacher. My classmates laughed but I felt it was a bit at my expense. My teacher and friends praised and encouraged me and for awhile I wrote again. But I was never confident because I knew that my writing revealed deeper parts of me that I didn’t openly share. After a disastrous English 101 class in college I stopped writing for pleasure again.

My career as teacher of students with disabilities, and then a supervisor of their teachers, required a lot of writing and i wrote detailed, informative evaluations of students and teachers. My supervisor would caution me about their length and said “every word doesn’t have to be a pearl”. But it did. “Pearls” required cautious writing with descriptive terms that delivered facts and nothing about me.

When I retired I wanted to write for myself. I HAD to write. I needed that outlet. I needed to find my voice, and let it reveal whatever was hidden in my message. I MUST write. Even this post is pushing me to write IT. I am comforted by the communities of writers I have found that understand what I mean. Now that I have written a novel based in part on my own experience as a young teacher I am preparing to deliver myself and my message at book talks and in interviews. It’s time to share my voice.