Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First steps

The ever so sweet, kind, and Lovely Melanie over at Livin' the Dream is featuring me on her blog for an entire week. A few days ago she asked me some questions so she could highlight me. One of the questions was "What made you want to write a book?"

It's funny because on of my very first posts was on that subject, but it made me realize only close friends and family saw it, and they know me pretty well. I read it again this morning and had an overwhelming desire to share with you. So here goes - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

Every child is asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Which really means, how on earth are you going to make a living when you have to pay the bills?

My answers as a child were always varied - astronaut, singer, teacher, actress, scientist, chef, artist, archeologist, etc. Even though, to tell you the truth, my heart wasn't really into any of those things.

The only thing I knew for certain, was that I wanted to be was a mother. It's interesting to think back to what my view of motherhood was then. I thought that when I was a mother I would let my kids eat ice cream whenever they felt like it. I would never make them do any chores, and they would get an allowance just because.

Ha! What a dream world that was. Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked - my point here is that I never imagined I would enjoy spending parts of my day writing.

When I was sophomore in high school I had never picked up a book just to enjoy reading. I only read because it was required for an assignment; or because a friend wanted me to read with them. It wasn't until a friend in my math class started ignoring me so she could read Harry Potter (thanks Sarah) that I even considered reading as an enjoyable activity.

Of course, once I was hooked, I had to find out what other books where out there. But, I still didn't enjoy writing. My family often made fun of me because I'm a horrible speller. I've improved over the years, but I used to think writing was about spelling alone. It wasn't until I had an incredible English teacher my senior year that I saw writing in my future.

The first day of class he made us all write a few paragraphs about our writing style. I, thinking the paper would be for his eyes only, wrote about my lack of confidence in my skills.

To my surprise, he took the papers, got up in front of the class, and read all of our little notes to everyone. I was mortified. Even though he didn't name names, except in joking, I was so embarrassed to have what I wrote read aloud.

The teacher had poked fun at some of the kids spelling and grammatical errors, and I was terrified about what he would say to my own humble admission.

I knew the moment he started my paper. Instantly my face turned red and I cowered in my seat. But this teacher read my note tenderly, and never even looked my way. His voice conveyed that he believed I was more capable than I gave myself credit for.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Little did I know that he had set a pattern from that day. A pattern that he would keep the whole semester. He made me feel as if I had something worth writing.

That effected me so deeply that here I am today, attempting to write a book. It has become, to me, something that helps me stay grounded. It release the stresses of my day and brings me full circle to remember who I am.

I'm sharing this with you mostly to remind myself. Sometimes we need to go back and look at those places in our lives where we felt a stirring inside us. Then the question has to be asked, do I feel that now? If not, go back to your roots, find what makes you happy and live it.

It shouldn't be superficial or material, that kind of happiness is temporary. It should be something that you enjoyed living every day. I'm not saying you should quit your job, or travel the world to find yourself. All I'm saying is that everyone should take a few moments in their day and figure out what makes them tick.

I don't mean to say that I have all the answers, because I certainly don't. All I am saying is that writing makes me happy. I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I get to be a mom and to write, neither of which are perfect, but which ultimately bring me moments of joy.


Angela V. Cook said...

What a lovely story! Some teachers are amazing in their ability to change lives. My American Lit teacher in high school inspired me with all his talk on "Seizing the day" and "Taking the path less traveled." I always tell myself that if/when the time comes, I plan on listing all the teachers who inspired me in my book's acknowledgements :o)

MikiHope said...

Beautiful post!! I am following you from Wobble over Wednesday!

Michele aka MikiHope

J. A. Bennett said...

Angela - me too! I hope we both see that day!

Miki - Thank you! I'm following back.

MissDMarie said...

Beautiful post, I find myself doing this (the looking back part and comparing it to me now) more and more lately to ensure I am on the right track =]. It is funny how little things like discovering what you like as a child/teen can make your happy as an adult.

Melanie said...

I linked to this article in my feature today. If you click on your photo, it comes up. Nothing like doubling up to get your stat numbers up. Great minds must think alike.

I also had some teachers that greatly influenced me. I love it when one of my kid's teachers reach one of my children like that, also.

Kelly L said...

Hi! This is Kelly from I've Become My Mother. I am visiting you today to ask for your help in saving the life of a child... We as writers/bloggers are excellent at getting the word out on so many different issues and topics... We love to write and we have a passion to share the world with others... What I am asking is this - Please visit my site and link up to today's post - the link is below. Please post the post on your Facebook. We need to get word out about bone marrow donations... You and others can get tested simply by ordering your free kit and swabbing your mouth - it's that easy to save a life... Please join me to save Haley and others who need our help.. Thank you and God Bless!
Be A Donor Save A Life Urgent Request

Joross Barredo said...

"No matter how fast we ran, how many miles we ran, never forget one thing: Dont forget to look your back",so to speak :)

Joross Barredo said...

In addition, i really appreciate your comment on my post about the draft thing...Now i know whom I can approach to when it comes to writing :D

V said...

This is such a beautiful post! Truly inspiring. :)

Design It Chic said...

This is such a beautiful and inspirational post, Jen! I totally agree that one must look for their dreams and follow them even if that means to go back to the roots and start it all over again. I'm really glad I found your blog and I am now following you thanks to Wednesday Blog Hop, and it would be so nice if you could share the love back on my blog;)
Also don't forget to tune in today, because we have some super sweet surprises for everyone and it will only get better from there, I promise! So don't miss it out. See you there!
Happy Thursday

Sarah said...

This is a lovely, poignant post! It really shows how teachers can make a huge impact on young people. I write for all the reasons you mentioned!

Janice said...

Love this post! Found you on the BlogHop. I too LOVE writing and use it as an outlet (along with reading) to keep myself sane in my world of 2 year old twins. I'm a new GFC follower and hope you will follow back!
Janice @

Michelle said...

Good Luck with your book! Like you, I always had varied answers to what I wanted to be when I grew up and even changed my major in college 5 times before I ended with fashion. When I was little I wanted to be a scientist, teacher, secretary, actress, oceanographer. I've always wanted to write a book, but right now, I just don't have it in me. Congrats on your Feature!!! Thanks for stopping by the "Sit and Relax" hop! Hope to see you again next weekend,
Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life

Catherine said...

It's teachers like that that make all the difference. And thank you for the wise reminder. It can be hard, when caught up in grown-up fears to remember what inspired us as a child.

therhythmmethod said...

This is fantastic. I feel the same about mumming and writing. Seeing my kids play and grow and live life to the full makes me want to do the same.
Looking forward to share your journey with you.

Aakriti said...

hey Jen....this post of urs touched my heart.."Sometimes we need to go back and look at those places in our lives where we felt a stirring inside us. Then the question has to be asked, do I feel that now? If not, go back to your roots, find what makes you happy and live it"..I made these lines of urs my FB status for today...they are so simple and profound:) Thnk u soo much. it was a pleasure reading. And yes..I can relate to what u said abt teachers. Some times what we joke about or feel raged abt what our teachers do to is only after yrs we get to know the value of it..coz things happen for a reason..right?? That's what Sigmund Freud said too :)

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

How lucky you were to find a teacher like that. And to have found the belief in yourself as a writer.

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.

Project Life Blog Queen said...

I love that you are writing a book! This article especially was meaningful to me because my 15 yo daughter does not spell very well and I am so encouraged that that does not have to define her. I know that she may never end up writing like you, but I am happy to know that spelling isn't the end all and be all. Do you have any advice about spelling? Did you become a better speller or do you rely on spell check? Is it something that matters now that you are older? Thanks so much for a great post.

I found you from the Sit and Relax Weekend Hop... I hope you'll come over and follow me back :)

J. A. Bennett said...

I did become a better speller. Writing helped with that. Once I started really writing I could see I made the same mistakes over, and over. It finally dawned on me one day that it would be easier to learn to spell, rather than rely on spell check.
The other thing that really helped was reading. Sometimes you get to a point in book where you really have to understand to words to know what's going on. The more you learn about the words the more likely you are to use them correctly and spell them right.
I had to figure it out on my own. My parents constantly dogged me for my bad spelling. It made me feel pretty worthless. It wasn't the way to teach me to be better. I guess my advise would be to let her learn the meaning of things in her own way.
For me, I learned because this teacher thought I had enough hart to look past my bad spelling. I say focus on what she CAN do. Then, she will achieve what she thought she could NOT do, because she will have gained confidence in herself.

Project Life Blog Queen said...

Thank-you for the great advice. I am a bit worried about her confidence already because DH does upset her about her spelling a lot. I homeschool her - so I often feel it's a failure on my part even though my other kids don't have this same struggle. I really think I need to talk to her and let her know that she is great and I'll continue to help her but bad spelling isn't really that important in her life. She also doesn't care to read for pleasure but she does love to read over cookbooks and magazines so I'm sure you are right, she'll figure it out on her own. I just need to relax and you have really helped me with that tonight. Thanks!

Nelson said...

Hello, Jen! Wonderful post!Congrarts for your work. Thanks for sharing! Have a fabulous week.Greetings!

Ryan said...

Jen, I love the journey of writing. Looking back at earlier posts and then forward to trhe newer ones. The difference in thought and clarity surprises me. It's a great gift to be able to sit and write, to allow the words to flow and give life to them. Great post! and thanks for joining Current Ripple!

Jennifer Smart said...

Hi Jen,
Really enjoyed your post. Becoming and being a writer is an incredible process. We take risks, reveal our vulnerability, desires and dreams. It's great to have had such encouragement at a young age, when so many teachers are trying to focus their students' attention on the nuts and bolts of education, rather than a love of creativity and self-expression.
I found your post via the week-end rewind, as a brand new blogger, I'd love you to visit me.
Cheers, Jennifer

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

I remember this post! Is a good one!

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.

Kim H said...

Lovely post and so very inspiring. Visiting from the Fibro and now following your lovely blog:)

Jane said...

What a great teacher you had, Jen, to show such kindness! Good for you - keep writing. It's so good for the soul, especially as a mum. J x