When one hasn’t written in a long time, like I haven’t, one tends to rely on prompts to get the writing going again. So that’s what I’m doing today.
I’m actually combining the “Flourish” prompt from Daily Post with the first prompt in the book “642 Things to Write About Me” that I picked up from the bookstore several months back but never got around to filling out. The prompt reads,
Write a letter to the teacher (or coach) who made a difference in your life, asking him or her for help. What are you asking for? Why?
With respect to time, I’m just going to put down what comes to my mind first. I could literally spend hours thinking about all the teachers and coaches that have made a difference in my life, and for that I’m thankful. In fact, I may just take a journal day one of these days and write them all down and see exactly which one I want to focus on.
But for right now, I’m going to focus on an English professor I had at university. I had him for several classes–at least four, I think. He always had innovative writing exercises and projects for us. It wasn’t really until I took his classes that I realized how much I loved writing nonfiction pieces about my life.
What struck me the most was at an end-of-quarter review at his office. He was curious to know if I ever considered getting my writing published. I told him that I never have, because–and this is still the case today–I’m terrified of putting my opinions and mind musings out there for everyone to read or judge. I feel like my writing is such a personal, private thing (yes, I see the irony in keeping a blog here). I told him that as much as I loved writing, my personal goal when it came to writing was to encourage someone else to write and possibly get published (okay; in hindsight, I also see the irony in THAT).
He told me I should strongly reconsider my stance, because he thought I had really interesting and intelligent things to say (since he had read at least 4 quarters’ worth of my writing, it was safe to say that he had a good collection to go by). I was flattered and honestly a bit emotional with him saying that. I never thought of the things I had to say or thought was ever worthwhile, let alone interesting. I didn’t think anybody cared or paid attention to what was on my mind. The whole thing felt overwhelming, to say the least.
I told him I didn’t think I’d reconsider anytime soon, and that’s when he asked if I’d ever consider teaching at the college level. He told me that a lot of the English faculty respected me (again, news to me!) and that I’d make a wonderful colleague. (Don’t worry; it wasn’t flirting or anything like that–get your minds out of the gutter, people.) I said it was funny that he mentioned that, because he wasn’t the first person in my academic career that said I’d make an outstanding educator. I took this information, tucked it away for later, and left that meeting/review with him insisting that I keep in touch should I ever need a reference.
Stupid me, I never took him up on it. Flash forward more than a decade later, and I’m still determined to help someone else get their voice out for the world to hear. I got attached to poetry therapy, made steps to becoming a Registered Poetry Therapist, went to a few National Association of Poetry Therapy conferences, and did a few after-school programs where I’d help to foster the love of writing in youth, most of the time at-risk ones.
But where has that taken me? I’m still not a Registered Poetry Therapist, and I still haven’t really helped anyone get published. I’ve started the path many times, but I have yet to reach the end. So that’s where I need this professor’s help. For the sake of semi-anonymity, I’ll call him Dr. P.
Dear Dr. P:
What seems like a lifetime ago, you helped to convince me that what I wrote was something that mattered. You gave me confidence that I could achieve great things, which I think all teachers should do. You gently pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and while I didn’t do it, it’s nice to know that someone believed that I would not only succeed, but thrive outside of that comfort zone.
I took off running after graduating, but it seems I have run out of gas. I’ve stopped thinking that what I say matters, and I’ve become unsure that I’ll be able to achieve my dream of helping others find their voice.
So what I’m asking of you is to help me flourish once more. To point me in the direction of the environment that will be best for me. I’m a little lost, and I guess I’m asking you to be my compass, as you have been in the past.
With Sincere Thanks,
To Finding a Way to Flourish in Life,