I have been writing since I was in first grade. I started identifying as a writer in third grade, and in fifth grade I started doing it regularly. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had finished a 50,000+ word “novel.” I kept writing, and I published my first novel in September.
I’m officially an author! It’s awesome, finally achieving this goal I’ve had all my life. I’m still just starting, but I’ve made about $40 so far. Yes, it’s not a lot, but that’s 4 pizzas I wouldn’t have been able to eat before publishing, and I’ll continue writing and continue building an audience and putting myself out there until it picks up, and I won’t give up. Because I honestly love writing. I don’t know what I’d do without it.
Knowing that, some of you may be surprised to learn that in middle school, I hated English class. Absolutely hated it. Mrs. J was my English/history/7th grade teacher (it was a small school) and she installed a deep loathing of English class deep into my soul. Mrs. J, if you’re reading this, you suck. Seriously. I never remember hearing one nice word from her.
I worked hard in her class, at first. I admit that I sucked at history, but I loved writing, even non-fiction, and I remember specifically that we had an entire lesson on poetry that included filling out a whole huge packet on poems over the course of the semester. I wrote poem after poem, and I never got any praise or anything out of it. Mrs. J blatantly had favorites, and only they ever heard nice things from her.
Mrs. J, I’ll once again say that you suck. I was bullied in middle school, and she knew, and she still made no effort to be nice to me. She didn’t like my mom, and my family didn’t have money, so she hated me. She made me feel like an idiot in her class, and if it wasn’t for my 8th grade teacher sitting me down with my parents and telling me that my test scores indicated that I was a smart girl, I would have believed that I was stupid. So thanks, Mr. R, for being nice to me. A+ for you. I’m sorry about when I forgot you were in my living room last year and you heard me talking about sex with my boyfriend. My bad.
Going into high school, I didn’t have high hopes for English class. Freshman year was pretty boring, mostly Shakespeare and vocabulary words, but then sophomore year I had Mr. C. Mr. C, a writer himself, was one of those amazing teachers who actually enjoyed teaching. He wanted everyone to think and learn and grow as a person. His class was about discussions and expressing ourselves.
Mr. C was the first person who told me I was a good writer. He encouraged me to submit short stories for publishing (erm… still working on that…) and called me a wordsmith. In front of the whole class. I believe his exact wording was, “I may not be a wordsmith like Bethany, but…” Yeah. I freaked out. It’s probably the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. I put great effort into picking the right wording to make things sound just how I want them, and to have it recognized was amazing. He really gave me the encouragement to keep writing, even if he couldn’t revive my interest in the study of literature.