It’s day two of the 30-Day Writing Challenge! Of course I’m posting way too late at night (or early morning depending on how you look at it), but at least I’m getting it done. For today’s challenge, I’ve decided to bend the topic just a bit. Instead of writing about my earliest memory, I’m going to write about my earliest writing memory. (I found out that I can be a bit creative with the topics to suit my writing mood, as long as it doesn’t stray too far from the theme.)
I’ve been thinking about my earliest writing memories a lot lately as I prepare to release my first book of essays. I was an essayist before I was a novelist. I fell in love with the form when I was in college. My earliest writing memory is also the my first memory of sharing a personal essay—in freshman year English Writing class. (Actually, my true earliest writing memory was my second grade teacher telling my mother that I should be a writer, after I wrote a “book” about a mouse and an elephant who were best friends.) This memory is the first time I can recall feeling the thrill of my words touching readers…
The assignment was to write an essay about life changes, I believe. I wrote my essay about how worried I was that my high school boyfriend and I would grow apart and break up, but how I knew that it was inevitable, because we were so young. I wrote about how everyone evolved as they grew and about how my older brother and his friends had settled down, raising families, instead of raising hell. The second half of the assignment was to pick an essay by a classmate that spoke to you and write a letter to the author about your response to it. The stack of letters on my desk was higher than every other student. In fact, I don’t know if more than one or two other students even received letters. It seemed my essay spoke to everyone – male or female. I know I have at least some of the letters packed away somewhere, because I found them not too long ago. It was amazing to remember the moment of realization that my essay had the most impact on my classmates. To be honest, it was heady stuff and since then, I’ve craved that connection with the reader.
I feel so grateful that I’ve been afforded that opportunity time and again since then. I have even become friends with some readers who reached out to me after reading my work. There is no greater satisfaction, than knowing that my words have changed someone.