Recently, an interviewer asked me who inspired my desire to become a writer. Certainly there have been numerous “writer heroes” whose work I admire, some famous, others more obscure. But one person stands out as leaving the greatest impression upon my aspiring writer-self. Her name was Mrs. Davis, and she was my seventh-grade English teacher.
From an early age, I knew I would be a singer and music teacher. That’s what I studied in college, and music education became my long career. But for many years, I set aside another persistent dream. Starting from an early age, I wrote journal entries, poems, stories, and plays. I couldn’t help myself. I had a love affair with words and a burgeoning appreciation for the beauty of language.
Mrs. Davis’ job was to teach English to a bunch of pimply faced preteens. I remember her as young–probably straight out of college–beautiful, and kind. Yes, she taught us grammar, punctuation, and the importance of correct spelling, but the most important thing I learned from her was that carefully chosen words have power…the power to influence and the power to stir deep emotions.
Mrs. Davis assigned her students a weekly essay topic. Some of my classmates balked at this assignment, but I couldn’t wait for Mondays when we would see the week’s writing topic displayed on the blackboard in her classroom. I always wanted to get started immediately. Why? Partly because I loved to write but also because Mrs. Davis appreciated and affirmed my essays. She never gave me a grade lower than A, which she always accompanied with an encouraging note. Additionally, she displayed my work on the bulletin board outside her classroom, and, as I learned later that year, she read my essays aloud to all her classes.
I recall one instance in particular. As she was sharing my essay with the class, she began to cry. I don’t remember the topic, but I will never forget the euphoria in realizing my words had stirred my favorite teacher to tears. That was the moment I realized that words have power.
If, in my teaching career, I have touched even one student as profoundly as Mrs. Davis influenced me, it has all been worth it. To have your hero believe in you and admire your work is, indeed, powerful. Through the years, I’ve tried to locate Mrs. Davis…to thank her for her inspiration. Chances are, she is no longer alive, but she lives on in the heart of this “literary late bloomer” who finally fulfilled her dream of becoming an author.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.