My favorite place to be is in my head.
As a young girl, I soaked in the bathtub with the boom box blaring, dreaming up dance routines and doodled across my paper bag book cover until graphite designs swallowed the cardboard colored wrapping.
But it never occurred to me to try my hand at creative writing; I didn’t like to read and the physical act of writing only ever led to a callus on my middle finger.
Then one of my teachers assigned our class the task of writing an original story, forcing me to apply my healthy imagination elsewhere.
Inspiration didn’t take long. On the bus ride home from school the same day, I was struck by images for an opening scene so fabulous in my ten year old brain that I immediately took pencil to paper and composed what I believed to be the start of a master piece.
This rush of innovation convinced me I was the next Judy Blume. I labored over my story, submitted the completed manuscript with the exuberance of A Christmas Story’s Ralphie, and waited for my Ms. Shields to award me with accolades and an A+.
My young author fantasy collapsed within a week. As I read through Ms. Shield’s blanket of edits, I could hear the red ink cackling, “You’re not good enough, kid.” Already a perfectionist, I cast my new ambition aside.
In high school I dabbled in poetry, in business school took fiction writing and literature courses, and as an elementary school teacher, loved to teach the craft. Each time, self doubt swallowed the artistic undercurrent.
Then I became a mommy with young children desperate for a hobby that fulfilled me in a way diapers, laundry, and sleep training never could. I sampled dance classes but lost interest when I couldn’t remember the routine from week to week and researched community art classes but concluded my drawing skills were best left in the margin.
Nothing stuck until one snowy morning on route to preschool drop off, words stepped forward.
My youthful, creative energy plunked down in the passenger’s seat beside me. “You don’t need fancy degrees, a library spilling with classics or outside approval to write,” she explained. “You have heart, experience, and curiosity. It’s time.”
Here I am, six years later writing picture books for children and essays for the grown-ups in their lives. Why?
I write to share my truth after 25 years of secret keeping.
I write to honor the child; to validate their place in this world, capture their joy, experiences and feelings and to preserve the innocent spirit I lost too soon.
I write so Bubbe and Skootch have access to a growing collection of their mother’s thoughts and beliefs so they may learn who I am in addition to being Mom
I write to model for them what it looks like to pursue a passion.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why I do what I do.
So whenever my ego swells, I become consumed with clicks, views and audience expectations, the idea pipeline shrivels, deadlines approach, rejections mount, a critique breaks my spirit or life just gets in the way, I take a breath…
relax into my favorite place,
hone in on my heart,
open the flood gates