The other day someone asked me this question and it took me by surprise.
I had to take a few moments to gather my thoughts and then I answered honestly, “No.” It has been only in recent years that I have wanted to pursue writing. But writing, I think, has always been pursuing me.
Writing has been my companion for as long as I can remember. In high school I took advanced Literature and English, and tried to avoid taking Ms. Fox’s senior class because I heard it was “hard”. School came relatively easy for me so I tried to steer clear of “hard”. Somehow, however, I was enrolled in her class and writing changed for me. I absolutely hated the “work” I was putting in, but those papers I turned out were like prize possessions to me. I was getting better at writing. There was nothing more satisfying to me than having written. (Thank you Ms. Fox.)
That was when writing first whispered to me.
I pushed the feeling aside and moved forward in the next logical step for pursuing a career: college. (I mean- who makes a career out of writing anyhow?) I enrolled in one of the top engineering schools in the country, Georgia Tech, and set out to get a management degree (laugh-out-loud). Not surprisingly, my favorite classes were two writing classes: one on Shakespeare and one on the Vietnam War. School no longer came easy to me at Georgia Tech so my writing classes became my refuge. A place where I still felt “smart” in a school that for the first time made me feel…well…the opposite.
After I graduated, I was in a serious quarter-life crisis. I had a degree and no direction. Writing in my journals helped me to process this feeling of…I don’t know…failure? What did I want to be when I grew up? Was I a “grown-up”? Shouldn’t I be passionate about a career path? an industry? a business? I had no answers, so I wrote my feelings. I read lots of non-fiction and self-help about purpose and personality strengths. I also read the Bible to try to discover just who exactly I was.
Writing was my comfort.
When I got married I struggled with identity and loss and grief. (Nice way to start newlywed life- bless my sweet new husband.) Writing was my therapy. A way to express all that was inside me.
But at some point I stopped writing. I had three small children and there was just no time. When youngest was born I was happy but exhausted and longing to get to know me again after years of “just being a mom”. I had learned so much about myself, and having children made me think even deeper about life. So I started writing again. To process. To have an outlet. To teach my children about what little I knew- and more important- to explain the crazy they came from.
Suddenly, I had tons of material. My kids gave me plenty to write about. I wrote down every funny thing they said and did. When something came to my mind that I wanted to explain someday to my kids, I would write it down. We took trips to the library and I absolutely loved reading books to them. And sharing my love for words.
Whenever I would write a blog post about life I would think, “how can I explain this to my little ones at this age?” I discovered that picture books accomplished this beautifully. Of course we are all about funny books in the Clark house, but I also loved the books that made you think. The ones that they saw themselves in. The books that explained their emotions in ways they could understand and remember.
So I fell in love with picture books. Not all of them mind you- some were terrible. But the ones that “stuck” with us sparked something in me. I started writing for children.
Writing went from a whisper to a familiar voice- my own.
I love writing for children because I believe childhood is THE most important time in a person’s life. It is the period of time that we dip from as adults when we need strength and courage. The time we remember that we are loved. Childhood is the small precious moment of our lives that shapes who we become as adults. So it is there that I want to focus my efforts. Picture books are powerful, and I want my children and any child who reads my books to remember them and draw from them when they need to later in life.
So no, I haven’t always wanted to be a writer. But I am so thankful that writing didn’t give up on me. And I am so excited to be on this journey- finally following the whisper in my heart.