In 5th grade, I realized I was a writer.
I know it was 5th grade, because in 5th grade I had Penny Heap, World's Best Teacher, and she told me I was a good writer. And I vowed to make her proud, because there was nothing better in the world than pleasing Mrs. Heap. (Her name was Penny! She drove a silver sports car! She moved me so I didn't have to sit by the mean girls!)
So I threw myself into my new craft, and a couple of Super Awesome Validating Things happened to set I Will Be A Writer When I Grow Up firmly into the concrete of ... my soul? (That metaphor got away from me a bit.)
First, one of my poems was picked to go in the "Creative Writing" section of my elementary school newsletter. Okay, yes, it was more a rip-off than an homage to Clement Clarke Moore, but let's give eleven-year-old me a break, shall we? I was a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
And then! Encouraged by the glittering success of my first publication, I went on to submit what I seem to recall were at least four poems (all heavily influenced by Shel Silverstein) to my beloved local library - and I won!
FIRST PLACE, BABY. That's right. I'm now an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR. With MULTIPLE PUBLICATIONS:
(In case y'all can't tell, I've been cleaning out some old paperwork lately. I also found the program from the terrible play my husband and I attended on our first date, my 9th grade report card - ouch, though it did make my current 9th grader feel better about his own performance - and a postcard Salman Rushdie sent to my graduate thesis advisor.)
With early encouragement - and, let's face it, raw talent - like this, is it any wonder I am sitting on my sofa in my jammies today, a Real Author?