I grew up as an only child. So, books were more than just a source of entertainment, they became my companions. Before learning to read, I would climb into a loved one’s lap while they read to me and I’d become part of the story. I often requested to hear the story over and over again, until I could recite it back page by page. That was my version of “reading” a book. (Reading the pictures is what my family called it.). Some of my favorite books as a child were the Little Golden Books and books by Richard Scarry. As I became older, I read almost anything I could get my hands on. I just loved a good story. Fortunately for me, my grandfather was the master storyteller in our family. For years, I thought Bruh Rabbit, Bruh Bear, and Bruh Fox were his characters. Although I found out otherwise, I’m persuaded to believe the stories he told about them were original. As my cousins and I sat around his feet, my grandfather exploded into eye-popping, jaw-dropping stories. He turned storytelling into a performance. I often tried to imitate his technique by recording myself telling made-up, silly stories and using different voices for my characters. When I played those recordings back for my family, I was thrilled to see my grandfather and father bent over with laughter. That was confirmation that I too would be added to the list of family storytellers.
My writing journey actually began with a poetry contest in elementary school. I submitted a poem about my grandmother and won first place. I was convinced from that point that I was a poet. That experience taught me that I could win contests for my writing. So, poetry coupled with storytelling predetermined my life as a writer. Throughout my school years, I ventured into writing short stories and plays that received recognition from my teachers, friends and local newspapers. The encouragement from my family and community were the biggest influences on my writing.
As an adult, I found serenity in pouring my feelings out on paper. I often used poetry or inspirational compositions as encouragement for myself or gifts for close friends and family members. Once I became a mother, I enjoyed watching my children’s faces as they sat around my dad's feet and listened to his eye-popping, jaw-dropping stories. It was a night of storytelling that prompted my interest in writing for children.
I hope my writing journey inspires you to never sit down on your dreams. Believe in yourself, and never limit yourself on what you can accomplished based on what others do or their opinions.