When I was in the fourth grade my family moved from Dallas to London where I attended an American school. My teacher was named Sheila Ihde and I absolutely worshipped her. Previously she taught for many years at St Albans, the prestigious boys school in Washington DC, so I think she was tickled to have girls as students and I was quite the teacher’s pet.
Elementary school teachers are supposed to be well-rounded and fairly democratic in their passion for various subjects, but let’s face it, every teacher has a certain bent and Ihde’s was writing. Apparently I showed some promise early in the year as she was very bullish about my writing skills. She’d rave and coo and spend extra time editing my little red composition books which I would fill with as many words as I possibly could, utterly convinced more was better.
One day Ms Ihde announced that there was going to be a creative writing contest. Students were to submit a Halloween-themed short story and the BBC was going to select the two best writing samples to be read on BBC radio on Halloween.
Technically some other kid “tied” with me as his story would be read on the radio as well, but in my mind, I won. It was most exciting thing that ever happened to me. I was a writer. A real live writer. Broadcast all across Britain, perhaps even to Buckingham Palace. I had visions of Queen Elizabeth inviting me to tea, desperate for me to sign a copy of my short story.
I knew in the 4th grade I wanted to grow up and become a writer. Yet I cringe at how many years (decades even) I spent not pursuing that passion. It makes me sentimental considering Little Chick is now in the 4th grade. Does she have ideas that are shaping her adult soul as we speak?
I can’t even recall what my 4th grade winning story was about. I remember my parents laughing about it a lot, saying it had a very “O’Henry” ending. Maybe I killed everyone off? I don’t think it ended pleasantly. Foreshadowing the future doom and gloom and romantically depressed tales I would output years later in college.
I did study Creative Writing for four years at Carolina. Despite studying under the best of the best, Southern writer Doris Betts who absolutely hung the moon as far as I was concerned, I still managed to get off track from my writing immediately after graduation. I found corporate life and marriage and motherhood and writing went by the wayside.
But over the past few years I have slowly been chipping my way back to my old childhood dream. I started a blog, having zero idea what a blog even was. Tom Chandler from The Trout Underground found it and encouraged me to start a fishing blog. I resisted for a bit but he was enthusiastic and I was feeling somewhat fearless so lo and behold this site was born.
And thanks to yall, this place has some life to it! It’s been a treat and a gas to share stories about fishing and other non-fishing adventures as they unfold. Which is why I am particularly excited to share a bit of news with each of you. (This is way better than the BBC radio.)
Tosh Brown of Departure Publishing has decided to publish a book of mine. It’s official, he just announced it yesterday. He wants me to document my year of training and preparation for the Texas Water Safari in a funny, raw, genuinely-me sort of way. So it’s happening. I’ve already submitted 15 chapters and the editing process has begun.
Of course I have no idea how the story is going to end until we actually get the race behind us but hopefully we will fare better than the characters in my BBC short story.
I wouldn’t have had that opportunity in 4th grade without Sheila Ihde cheering me on. Similarly I wouldn’t have this opportunity with Departure Publishing without each of you cheering me on….tuning in, leaving comments, laughing along at the stories I share on this site. I am so grateful and hope I can make you proud with this next adventure!