For as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing. I think my first short story was written in the fourth grade. It was an adaptation of Cinderella. I liked it well enough that I typed on my parents old DOS computer using that computer paper with the perforated edges.
My teacher also liked my story, so much so that she chose it to read to the class as an example of “good writing.” “This is from Jessica,” she said. My cheeks felt flushed then and as she read, I kept my eyes steady on her lips so as to not felt the trembling all over my body.
She read my entire story and upon completing it, she asked the class their opinions. “What did you think of Jessica’s great story?” she said. I wished then that she didn’t use “great” and I wished then that I could disappear, but I couldn’t.
No one raised their hand except the class “clown,” who joked that I was stupid for using the word “flown” to describe my Cinderella’s fast run up the stairs of her mother’s humble abode.
Everyone laughed then. And I wanted to slap him then, but I didn’t. I sat there, took his criticism and didn’t allow it to effect my writing or aspirations to write.
I tell this story now because it reminds me what writing has always been to me. I’ve always been dreadfully shy, but writing has always been that place where I felt unafraid of words, of myself, of others.
Writing for me, is personal, so criticism of my writing does hurt and I do, sometimes, take others’ criticism of my writing personally. But I’ve never allowed any criticism be the thing that makes me stop writing.I’ve never allowed any criticism to get in the way of my belief that writing is what I should be, need to be, when I grow up.
Do you believe in “callings”? For me, I feel like writing is my calling. What are your callings?