In seventh grade my English class was assigned to write a short story of some sort. I don’t remember what the specific parameters were. I’m not sure if they were all supposed to be horror stories, but I do remember that I penned something pretty gruesome about a hit-and-run accident on a lonely road one Halloween night. It was probably awful, but my teacher was impressed and had me read mine aloud to the class. When I finished, I remember looking at my classmates and seeing on most of their faces an expression that roughly translated into, “Wow!” It took me a while and some false starts to get around to writing fiction professionally, but in some ways I feel like after that early taste of reading to an audience there was no other option for me. I can’t draw even a little bit—stick figures are a stretch. Can’t sing. Don’t do numbers particularly well. But to be able to use writing to make people feel something they might not have otherwise felt, or to consider a point of view they might not otherwise have considered—well, that feels like both a gift and a responsibility. There’s an oft-repeated Gloria Steinem quote that strikes a particular chord with me: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” I don’t know if a lot of people can say that about their chosen career, and I feel incredibly fortunate that I can. I’ll do everything I can do to honor that opportunity.
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