When I was in fifth grade, our entire graduating class was asked to write graduation speeches. Three kids out of a few hundred would be picked to read theirs during the ceremony. Not only was mine picked, but our school counselor called my father at work to tell him she had never seen a fifth-grader write so well.
So at ten years old, I stood up on graduation day in front of an audience of about 1000 people and read what I had written. I don’t recall being nervous. I altered between looking down at the speech to read it and looking up at the crowd. If I may say so myself, I nailed it. Afterward, my teacher told me I was “naturally gifted” and was going places with my writing.
In sixth grade, I joined the school newspaper. I showed up to school an hour early twice a week to write articles about subjects we were assigned or prompted to. One morning, I decided I was tired of writing the boring articles we were asked to and instead wrote one about my history teacher, who nobody including the other teachers liked.
I turned it in, returned to my seat and studied Ms. Geller’s reaction and body language as she read it to herself. She didn’t make it past the opening paragraph without bursting into laughter. I was asked to stay late to discuss what I had written. Though she clearly found it funny, I still thought there was a chance I was in trouble for what I wrote, as it was more or less a hit piece.
On the contrary, she complimented me not only on how well written it was but also how funny she found it to be. I remember her telling me how bold and creative I was, before saying there was no way she could include it in the upcoming issue but asking if I minded she kept it.
It was right then I started to believe maybe these teachers and school staff members were right and I was onto something. Perhaps I had found my thing.
By eighth grade, I was charging other students to write assigned essays for them and turned it into a nice little hustle. It never felt like work, I liked doing it.
In High School, my Criminology teacher asked me to join the mock trial club solely based on my ability to write well and I agreed. The opening and closing statements I wrote would’ve made sure O.J. Simpson got the death penalty.
A few years later my Uncle committed suicide and I was asked to write and read his eulogy at the funeral. I remember tears coming to my eyes as I wrote it but fighting the urge to cry when I read it at the funeral. I might’ve been the only one not crying as I read it, there wasn’t another set of dry eyes in the entire church. To this very day, that eulogy probably stands as the thing I’m most proud of having written.
My grandmother had it printed and framed and it remained on her bedroom wall until the day she passed herself. It is now on the wall in my Aunt’s house.
I was asked to write and read the eulogy for every family member who has passed since, though none were as good as that first one. It became too routine. That and I was tired of loved ones dying before their time. It was like being given a homework assignment during the midst of my grief.
One of my best friends passed away in a tragic freak accident when I was seventeen. A young girl without so much as a learner’s permit was being given a driving lesson by her Father when she lost control of the vehicle, sending the car across two lanes of traffic and up my friend’s lawn. The car killed her on impact.
A lady who knew the young driver and her father felt the need to write into a local paper, not only defending them but calling my friends character into question for having a child out of wedlock as if it was 1950.
It’s worth noting my friend tossed that same child out of harm’s way from the oncoming vehicle that day, and died bravely doing so.
I wrote a response to the lady’s egregious opinion piece and hand-delivered it to the local newspaper’s headquarters. Not only did they read it on the spot and end up printing it but they apologized to me personally for running the lady’s ridiculous statements.
I’ve proofread and edited eulogies and wedding speeches for people who have passed and couples getting married, who I’ve never even met, free of charge.
A few months ago the marketing director of KEF Audio reached out to me via email about a Medium piece I wrote and asked if I would be interested in adding to it for an upcoming issue of their quarterly print magazine. Not only did I happily agree to do so, but I was sent a free pair of headphones as compensation. The piece is due to be printed any day now and I’m looking forward to seeing my name at the top of an article in an actual magazine.
Lastly, which is probably the most significant thing I’ve ever written, I was asked to write a letter to the jury that would be read in an actual criminal court case for a friend of mine who was sexually assaulted. She said she wasn’t emotionally with it enough to write it herself and I assured her I’d write one no jury in the world would be able to ignore.
The man who assaulted her was sentenced to seven years in prison. Not nearly long enough if you ask me but I’m glad I was able to have a hand in seeing justice be served.
The written word can be extremely powerful. I’m always honored when I’m able to utilize it to do some good or when something I’ve written stands out to someone. I look forward to seeing the places writing may one day take me to.