I can remember it very clearly, the day I realized that I was a total hypocrite. I was standing in the front of my classroom, in front of 25 4th graders, and I was teaching a lesson on growing ideas for narrative writing.
As you might imagine, some of the kids really struggle with this. I take them through different examples about how other authors come up with their ideas. We share how some famous authors have stumbled upon the seeds for some of their most famous books. Some of them think of something immediately, but others whine, “I don’t know what to write about. I don’t have any good ideas.”
It was when I said, “You guys, the thing is-writers write the books that they wish existed in the world. If it’s not out there, it’s up to us to write it!” that it dawned on me. How long had I been wishing that there was something out there for me, a book that would help me and others know that we are not alone? That other mamas who had lost babies and struggled through grief were having the exact same thoughts and feelings, and none of us were crazy after all?
Here I was, urging my students to do something that I really needed to do myself. I knew that I needed to take my own advice and get started-The problem is that writing takes so much bravery. You are taking a huge leap into this world where you know you’ll be judged for what you have to say, and how you say it.
That exact moment was why I started writing. I began writing my memoir that very night and 65,000 words later (and almost 3 years!), I’m now in the final edits and ready to start querying publishers.
I’ve read somewhere that something like 80% of Americans want to write a book, or feel they have a story in them. I’ve also read that the chances of making the NYT Bestseller list is akin to winning the lottery. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t want that, but I am telling you that I honestly don’t expect it. That’s not why I write.
Writing (and reading) has provided so much so for me throughout life. I’m a total word-nerd, just like Amanda, and there’s a reason for that. As a child, books offered me an escape, I loved jetting off into that fantasy world whenever I needed. As an adult, so much of what I seek out to read is to educate myself on the world around us. Reading makes us better people. The more we know, the more empathy we have. I mean, I didn’t realize when I was a kid how much you’re learning about life even through fiction books like the Baby-Sitter’s Club (I mean, I always knew that Kristi had leadership skills and I wanted to be the one in charge, LOL!)
Now that my book is almost done, and I’ve started blogging, updating Facebook, and getting jobs writing articles, I am writing for a totally different reason. Now, I have become addicted to that beautiful feeling when someone has connected to my words. I now live for the moment when someone says, “Oh my gosh, me too!”
This is what pushes me along now. It’s what makes me give up my precious fleeting moments of free time to write blog posts and engage with followers on social media. I don’t get paid anything monetarily, but do I get paid in relationships. I can find meaning through my words and through the positivity I’m attempting to put out into the universe.
Reading and writing may seem like they’re just hobbies. To me, though, they are more than that. We read and write because it connects us to everyone else. Through words we are reminded that we matter, and that we belong. The power is in the knowledge that others are going through similar things to us-both the good and the bad-and that, no matter what, we are never alone.
There is nothing like knowing that you are not alone. Keep reading and writing, fellow word-nerds. We need each other! Now, go get started!
Christy Wopat is a 4th grade teacher and writer. She lives with her husband and two hilarious, energetic children, who provide more than enough material for Um, You Guys?, her humorous blog and Facebook page where she talks about parenting and parenting after loss. You can find her at: