I was seven years old when my second grade teacher assigned us the writing project that completely altered the course my life would take. We’d just finished reading one of those Farmer Brown’s Barnyard books. My teacher told us that we had to write an extended ending, and then promptly plopped down into the chair behind her desk and opened a book of her own to read.
The book’s story line is fuzzy to me now, but I remember that I enjoyed it. I always have been an avid reader, and even back in early elementary school, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a new book. Writing, though… that was different. I’m sure we did some little assignments where we pasted a couple of sentences that were packed full of misspellings and grammatical errors onto a poorly drawn picture, but I can’t remember any of the specifics. That day, though, I decided that I was going to try my hardest to write an ending that would do such a great book justice.
Finally, after working almost the entire class on my ending, I turned in three full pages of writing. I imagine that there was a gigantic smile pasted on my face, since just thinking about that day makes me grin like mad.
It was probably several days before we got our papers back, but for some reason, my mind is telling me that it was only a matter of minutes. Obviously, some of this memory is skewed, but I guess that’s to be expected from a memory nine years old.
When my teacher handed me back my paper, she smiled and bent down to whisper, “Yours was the longest. I liked it the best, but don’t tell anyone else.”
I assured her that I’d keep it a secret before turning back to the paper in front of me that had a gigantic red ‘A’ slapped on the top, along with a stamped-on smiley face. I then proceeded to parade around the room, bragging to every one of my classmates that mine was longer than theirs. I’ve never really been very modest, and thinking back on my behavior that day, I’m reminded what a bratty child I was. That’s irrelevant, though.
Honestly, I’m not sure what set that assignment apart from all the others that I’m sure I had to do. What I do know is that it was the beginning of my life as a writer. Since that assignment, I’ve written dozens of short stories and started at least that many books. Every day, I continue to grow as a writer.
It kind of makes me wonder, if I’d never received that writing assignment, would I still be considering pursuing a career in writing today? Would I still devote hours upon hours of my life to writing and rewriting the things that my imagination conjures? Would I still dream about one day publishing a book? Would my computer hard drive still be overloaded with unfinished stories?