This morning I ran into my 2nd grade teacher, the woman who helped me discover, and fostered my love of creative writing.
Mrs. Barnes was a god-send. She saw in me a love for reading and writing and made sure that I excelled in both. It is actually because of her that I wrote and illustrated my first “book.” And my love for writing just went on from there.
I was a bit of a nerd in 2nd grade. I read more than most, actually liked school, and loved learning. So when Mrs. Barnes gave us a new assignment, I was thrilled to see that we would be writing and illustrating our own books. I went right to work, writing a story about a very unlucky leprechaun who just couldn’t seem to find his pot of gold.
An 8 year old me thought I’d written a masterpiece.
After writing a “sloppy copy” in pencil on lined paper, Mrs. Barnes helped me to find and correct all of my spelling mistakes, and once my story was deemed “perfect” I was ready to make it into a book.
She handed each of us a book, with a manilla cover and inside were blank pages, with a space for an illustration at the top of each. I was in heaven. I began writing my story inside, placing a finger between each word for the perfect spacing. My illustrations came next, colored as carefully as a 2nd grader could possibly manage to keep in the lines.
And then she told us that we would be sharing our books with the rest of our class and their parents.
Even then I was terrified that people would make fun of me, or even worse, hate my book. (Some things never change even though I’ve gotten a little better about that now.)
When it came time for the dress-rehearsal, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t read my book out loud to my class mates. I teared up. But Mrs. Barnes saved the day. She asked me if I would like her to read my book for me at the celebration that night.
And somehow, that made everything so much better.
That night I sat in front of all my classmates and all of their parents and held my book while Mrs. Barnes read my story. Sure I was embarrassed because I was too shy to read it myself. But it went off without a hitch. Everyone clapped for me at the end.
I went on to write a couple of stories about the misadventures of twins named Karen and Susie. My Aunt gave me a huge notebook in which to write all of my stories and ideas for stories. Every time I got writing assignment in school I did it without complaint.
My love for writing grew and grew. Even though it seemed impossible and so far away at the time, I wanted to have books of my own alongside the ones I read every day. To this day, that is still a goal of mine.
So thank you Mrs. Barnes. Thank you for instilling this love in me and for giving me an experience that I will never forget.
With out you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Still writing. Still with the dream of one day, being a published writer.