Despite a family that constantly encouraged me to become a pastor, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “author.”
This was an acceptable secondary answer, because way back in our family tree, all the way back to Denmark, we have my great-great-great something-or-other, Hans Christian Andersen. His favorite grandmother had our family surname (but the Danish version). He wrote about her in his stories, picturing her as the angel in The Little Match Girl.
I saw the pre-Disney version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid when I was very young, where the mermaid turns to foam in the end. I remember watching with my dad on a Saturday morning, and bursting into tears. It was nearly traumatizing, but not in a totally awful way. Even now when I think of it, it breaks my heart.
I wrote my first story in second grade. It was called The Magic Hat, and it was ten pages long. Mine was the longest. It had all my friends in it, as well as pyramids, sparkles, and a talking squirrel. I still have the only copy—it’s been kept in the same Care Bears folder all these years.
As a high school sophomore, we were assigned to write a story. Mine was a tragic romance called Smoking Guns. It was 48 pages, and once again, was the longest. My mom actually typed it for me on an electric typewriter, too, so that was pretty awesome. And my teacher read it out loud. All 48 pages. That was pretty awesome, too.
After graduating from college with an English major, I went to grad school for creative writing. I didn’t really expect to do anything with it—I just liked it. I had some really good feedback and I loved my time there, but I never finished even though I had enough credits. I think about going back.
I took a detour into teaching and got my master’s in education instead. Now I’m a middle school special education teacher in one of the largest urban school districts in the country, going on fifteen years. I didn’t know this until I was years into my job, but I found an old college aptitude test I had no recollection of taking, and guess what it said I should be—a special education teacher! So, maybe it’s not the detour I thought it was, so much as a path I was meant to be on all along.
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