The other day, as I was walking out of my room, I did a double-take and walked back in. Something had caught my attention. It was something that I have walked past countless times every day for the past few years; yet at the same time, something that I barely stop to look at.
On this occasion, though, I did stop. I stood for a few minutes, and read over the first article I ever wrote.
I was in grade 6 when I wrote it. At the time, I thought the 500 word maximum for having an article in the Student Views section of my local newspaper was absurd. 500 was a big number; there was only one of me, and I had to write 500 times that amount of words! Five-hundred is an intimidating number, that’s for sure.
So I sat down at my computer, opened a word document, and waited. I had no idea what I would write about, much less how I would write 500 words about it. I waited some more, until eventually I got tired of waiting and started writing.
At first, I didn’t know what I was doing. My fingers were flying across the keyboard, and the word count was adding up. I wasn’t consciously thinking about what I was writing, yet I knew that the idea had originated somewhere in the murky depths of my brain, aka the wasteland for unused ideas.
When I had finished writing, I sat back, took a deep breath, and braved myself to look at the word count. It came to roughly 500 words.
To this day, I still remember babbling to my anyone who would listen – or rather, anyone with ears – about the article I had written. I, Sherina Harris, a grade 6 student, had written 500 words. At the time, I thought it must have been a world record.
I was just about ready to send off an email to the Guinness Book of World Records when a very important revelation dawned on me: I had yet to submit my article to the newspaper.
I was very nervous about doing this. I had practically everyone I knew proof over the article, checking for spelling, grammer, and anything else that SpellCheck might have missed (even from a young age, I didn’t trust a computerized, faceless program to detect flaws in my writing).
The funny thing is, despite all of the proofreading that occurred before I mustered the courage to submit the article, there are still blatantly obvious grammatical errors in it. I like to think that they keep me humble, because seeing a framed article boasting the word “you’re” instead of “your” reminds me that one is only as intelligent as their dumbest moment.
Anyways, after all was said and done, I submitted the article. Then came the feeling that is now all-too-familiar, but at the time was something I had never experienced before. Imagine being held over a tank of hungry great white sharks, dangling inches away from their open mouths, knowing your fate rests in the hands of the person holding you. That’s what the wait to hear back from the editor of the newspaper felt like.
Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a tad. But hey – isn’t that what we writers do?!
Adding to my feeling of anxiousness was the fact that I never actually heard back from the editor. I had nearly forgotten about my article, when BAM; it happened.
I remember it as if it was yesterday. It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and my class was having a pajama party. I arrived at school clad in my turquoise and purple pajamas (you’ll have to take my word that they were in fact fashionable at the time). I was prepared for a fun day of Christmas festivities, leading up to two weeks without school. I was not prepared to arrive at school and hear the principal talk about me and my article over the announcements, nor to have students and teachers I had never talked to in my life approach me and say that they had read my article in the paper.
I had no clue that my article had been published, and the way I found out, by pure surprise, made it such a special experience for me. That day at school, I also found out that my audition for the school play had been successful, adding to my excitement.
When I think about being truly happy, that day comes to mind. Although I like to think of myself as a typically happy person, on that day, I truly felt elated.
I remember after school, placing my bag in the trunk of my Dad’s car. I casually asked him, “Did you read today’s newspaper yet?” He responded with a no. I said, “Oh, okay, well my article is in it.”
After that, I went to my friend’s house, and when I came home, I was welcomed with a large stack of newspapers, all containing the 500 word article that I had written.
When I wrote that article, I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Because after that one article, I wrote 14 more, and decided that writing is something that I would like to do for the rest of my life.
I can’t help but smile as I write this, because I know that if I hadn’t written that article in grade 6, I might not be writing this blog post today.
If my life was a hill, my first article was a small stone that began rolling down the hill. Along the way, it gathered dust and dirt and became larger and larger, until eventually, it led me to where I am today.