Thursday, June 20, 2013

When I Knew I Was a Writer

Dear Bloggers,

I've been saying that I was going to start back posting regularly.  I found out about this blog competition:  "Writing Contest:  You Are a Writer," and figured that I would use this to get me back to my blogging roots:

I first learned I was a writer in first grade.  After living through a lot of the craziness in Mobile, Alabama, my mother moved her, myself and three siblings to East St. Louis, IL, in an effort to get our lives back on track.

We moved in with our grandmother and the host of other relatives and foster children that lived there, and I started going to elementary school.

As a child, I've always had a bad habit of procrastinating and this time was no different.  My teacher told the class that there was a mandatory writing competition for first graders up to fourth graders.  It was optional for fifth and sixth graders.  But everyone had to have their "Young Author" books in by a certain date.  In normal Kendra-fashion, I put it off, telling myself, "I'll get it in in time."

On a Friday the teacher reminded the last two of us in the class who hadn't turned in our books that we had the weekend to finally finish our stories, but they had to be turned in on Monday.

I got home that night, did my homework and decided to leave the book to do on Sunday.  I had important things to do, like watch cartoons, or "The Love Connection" with my grandmother.

Monday morning I woke up feeling extremely refreshed, and before everyone else in the house.  I took a nice long bath, got dressed, ate breakfast, and then sat down and wait for everyone else to get on my level.  When everyone woke up, it was the normal mad-dash of people getting ready and fighting over the bathroom.  Like the boss I felt I was I sat and provided color commentary to all the commotion.

While teasing one of my sisters it hit me like an asteroid:  CRAP!  I FORGOT TO WRITE THAT STUPID BOOK!  Panicked, I grabbed a random notebook that was on the couch and ripped out about five to seven sheets of paper and folded them in half.  Then I went to a corner and just started scribbling down a story.  I didn't care what was on the paper, I just needed something, so I wrote about our move from Alabama.  However, whenever someone in my family came around I would hide the book and pretend like I wasn't doing anything.   When they would try to hold a conversation with me, I would internally yell:  "Get away from me!  I'm trying to do my homework!"

But, I wasn't as smooth as I realized because my mother caught me.  Instead of being mad (which I just knew she was going to be) she grabbed a handful of crayons and escorted me to the car.  When we got to the school she allowed me to sit in the car and color my illustrations.  When I got out, she wished me luck, but also gave me a stern warning of:  "See, this is what happens when you procrastinate.  Don't let it happen again."

I walked into my classroom right when the bell rung, handed my teacher my story and felt like I could breathe again.

I totally forgot about it all until one random morning my teacher told me that she wanted to talk to me during lunch.  That's what she always said to the bad students, and I dreaded what she had to say.  Racking my brain, I panicked with trying to figure out what I did wrong.  Lunch time came and I went to her, lips quivering, slightly shaking, and feeling like I could pass out at any time.  She began to ask me questions about the story.  After I told her my answers she took me to the principal's office where my oldest sister, Amber, was there as well.   They began grilling both of us.  The entire time I'm thinking:  Will they stop asking me questions about the story and tell me what I did wrong, so I can cry and tell them I'm sorry?!  They then called my mother on speaker phone and I knew I was done.  This is it.  They're going to tell my mother I blew up an orphanage.  

While they questioned my mother about if she participated with me writing the book (which she adamantly exclaimed:  "No, that was all on Kendra.  I told her not to procrastinate!  Is she in trouble?")  They finally told me that I came in second place in the writing competition.

A myriad of emotions hit me, like:  Y'all did all of this just to tell me that I came in second?!  It wasn't until they revealed the full magnitude of it that it began to sink it.  The person who won first place was a sixth grader.  So, this first grader, who wrote this book about twenty minutes before leaving to go to school beat out everyone from first grade to fourth (including my two sisters) and the fifth and sixth graders (except for one) who opted to do this?  These students who actually gave time to it, who were tenacious, and didn't sit in a corner fighting back tears fearing that they were going to get caught for procrastinating.  I beat them?!

For some reason I began to feel a peace come over me.  Growing up I had a stuttering problem, and communication was always very difficult for me.  When you have a speaking difficulty, people begin to believe that you have a learning disorder as well.  So I was always talked down to, and made to feel as though I was lesser than my two older sisters.  Also, being the third out of four sisters I was constantly compared to my siblings.  Amber and Kelli were deemed the smart ones, and whenever I tried to expose my intelligence I would get a pat on the back and a gentle push in the opposite direction to let me know that talking wasn't what I was supposed to do.

I knew I had so much to say, but didn't know how I could say it.  It wasn't until I  came in second in that competition that I found where I belong.

Because my school's administration was so impressed by my age, they entered my book in a larger writing competition and it won fourth within the district's.  It made me feel so proud of myself, and validated that I might not be my sisters, but I am a writer.

Stay Encouraged!!  

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