A few days ago I posted this picture to my Facebook author page, today I tweeted J.K Rowling about that same picture (She probably will never see the tweet but hey a girl can dream).
3-16-05 the date I finished reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
March of 2005 I was in fifth grade. Wow. It’s been awhile.
March of 2000 I couldn’t read.
I remember being pulled out of class to meet with my reading teacher. I liked her. She gave me candy and she was nice. I remember this same scene, it’s so faint. But she’s holding her book talking to my little group. I have the same book on my table and I’m looking over her head at the clock that I also couldn’t read.
And I thought, “I wish I knew what she was talking about.”
March of 2001 I didn’t want to read
I didn’t want to do anything but play. I could read my homework but I didn’t want to do my homework.
Mrs. Ray, my teacher, tried so hard to get me engaged.
I think I had one friend, her name was Amber.
I also started meeting with the counselor that year because I didn’t have a mom. My parents had been divorced since I was four and I suppose they felt my lack of interest was because I was missing something.
I remember I cried when my mom didn’t come to my Mother’s day tea party. I also remember my counselor had a doll house I used to make stories up with.
March 2002 I hated reading
I had been held back. I was now in second grade again.
I had a lot of new friends but my old friends made fun of me because…
“I was stupid.”
Except Amber, we went to see a movie with Mrs. Ray.
I remember we had another Mother’s day tea and my mom couldn’t make it.
March 2003 I read picture books
My dad played this video game called, Final Fantasy, throughout my childhood. I used to watch him play every single day. He had started playing FFIV and I really wanted to play.
But my dad said I could only play if I could read.
“I can read.” I said. And he pointed to the screen and I read. I read it perfectly.
Because I could read.
“But Why don’t you read?”
And like Disney’s Alice, I said, “I don’t read books that don’t have pictures.”
March 2004 my teachers still thought I couldn’t read
In fourth grade I got a wonderful tutor named Mrs. Brown.
She would pull me out of math and I would “struggle” to read two pages of a chapter book and ask that she’d read the rest.
When she read, I saw these pictures. These pictures I couldn’t create when I read.
I listened and then would go back to class.
But in forth grade my regular teacher went on maternity leave. We had this evil substitute teacher that would force our class to always be quiet and made us read in our free time. So I would read my picture books over and over again because she wouldn’t let me go to the library. But there was only so many times I could read, The Polar Express.
So I wondered up to the reading corner and pulled a chapter-book from the shelf. I rolled my eyes as I sat down and spent days pretending to read my book.
I would watch those pages and make up stories in my head.
But one day, I saw the pictures and they weren’t mine. I had accidentally started reading my book and I looked over at my friend and said, “I can see pictures! Can you see the pictures?”
She shook her head because she also pretended to read.
I moved and was retested on my reading level. I was advanced and was pulled out of class to help second graders read.
I was smart.
And my dad and stepmom were so proud. They promised to pay me 5 dollars for every A I earned. I don’t think I ever got an A on anything before.
I got all A’s.
I was okay with reading, but it wasn’t my favorite thing in the world.
But my dad talked about how he thought it was impressive when he walked into a room and there was a shelf full of books that the person had read. He suggested that I start logging my books.
I wanted to be impressive; I wanted to impress my dad and my new mom.
I picked the biggest books I could find and one of those was Harry Potter.
I told all my friends I would read all the Harry Potter’s over the summer (the ones that were out).
And I did.
And I read Nancy Drew.
And I read Little House on the Prairie a book my fourth grade teacher had given me.
I read a book a week.
I read 1-2 books a day.
I was bumped up to a special vocabulary list for gifted kids in my English class
I could do anything.
I was in Honors English every year.
It was so hard.
It was so fun.
It was so rewarding.
Senior year 2012
I was going to be an author. I was going to write books and I was going to help people see the pictures.
Because I could do anything and no one could hold me back.
End of Senior year
I submitted to a writing contest that I didn’t win. I got an honorable mention instead and I thought, “Man this just wasn’t the one.”
After some research I learned that contest was one of the biggest in the world with 1000 submissions in the quarter. I was top 50.
I turned my short story, Blue Birds, into the book you know as Seeking Incandescence. That year I released my poetry collection and in June of 2016 SI released.
At the beginning of my story I couldn’t read. There was nothing I hated more than school. Writing and reading were useless to me.
And everyone underestimated me.
And I underestimated myself.
But from someone else’s belief I became the author I am today. I needed to be challenged, I needed to be encouraged, and I needed to believe that there was magic in success.
So today I hope that you share your encouragement and belief with someone else. Because we cannot expect people to succeed if they don’t know what success taste like. We cannot expect someone to try if we only give them excuses for their failures. We cannot expect people to stand up if they don’t know what they are standing up for.
But I believe in you. I believe in them. And I believe that everyone can succeed with just a bit of help.