One life changing experience came with a not so great moment in a college composition class. I had failed my first attempt at the local community college and decided to give it another try. I felt dejected by the instructor’s comments to my face. I was trying to express my feelings—incomplete thoughts, typos, run on sentences, grammar horrors. It wasn’t her fault I was producing sub-par work. I was the type of student an English instructor abhors where the expectation is for students to know the basics of good writing. That was the beginning. It didn’t improve. I was at about a “D” in the course. The instructor suggested I drop. I did. I felt bad. Was I ever going to be able to get through these damn English courses?
I waited out the semester and I enrolled the following semester in a course that would focus on writing improvement. The new instructor seemed much more supportive from the get go. She didn’t have an air of superiority as I felt the other one did. She was down to earth and seemed like she really wanted to help. I didn’t do great, but there were improvements in my overall writing and expression. I was at least able to produce “C” work.
At some point between the first and this second experience, something in me said, I am going to make it my life goal to conquer writing. I am going to master it. I didn’t give up. I began taking more community college courses with no direction whatsoever and learning on my own, staring at the pages in grammar books, trying to make sense of the rules. It began small and then took over. Progress came. I started to love the learning process and I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to take all the English classes that I could. I toyed with ideas of majoring in English with a minor in philosophy; and then I thought about majoring in Psychology, no wait Health Science. I didn’t know what I wanted to do except to take interesting classes, write, learn, and explore.
I ended up being a student of life and finding the “expresser” in myself through writing, especially through the English classes because I was introduced to so many types of reading and ideas, and I savored writing about my reactions to the material. And when I received positive comments, I glowed inside. It was a long process and once my expresser was awakened, I took to my journals and I traveled wherever I wanted to go in my thoughts and imagination.
Through a series of synchronistic events, one of which lay dormant for at least a decade, I decided that I would work on a liberal arts bachelor completion program through John F. Kennedy University. My emphasis would be humanities, which since I attended there has changed a bit. I never did finish the program and I have a huge debt that I will be paying back for a long, long time. I have gone back in my mind asking if it was worth it and I sometimes waver between a meek no to a resounding YES! I’m in no position to finish for several reasons, but I feel that I got what I needed and I gained so much out of the program. It was truly a spiritual writing journey. Part of the reason I chose this school is because of the emphasis on writing. The tutors there were spectacular and I remember in a writing workshop for students new to the program—there was an English major there whom had switched her major to something—I don’t remember what. And though she was an English major, she still somehow needed help with her writing. I felt there was hope for me.
The courses that I took were interesting and varied and I still think about them till this day. I was encouraged through the instructor’s comments on my writing and gradually I think deep down I began to realize that I was becoming a writer. I don’t know that there was any one strong moment where I thought, I want to be a writer; rather, there were a series of intersecting moments that I realized I needed to express, and writing happened to be the container for a woman who doesn’t speak up much in person—and still doesn’t. My main voice is through the words on the page. For that, I am thankful. If not for this mode of expression, I would still be unconnected pieces without a voice. I write. I express. I am whole.