Musings of a Marfan Mom

Losing My Writing

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This week I’m writing on Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop Prompt #2: What did you once lose? Describe your search to find it again.

In my soul, I am a writer. I don’t profess to be excellent or even average, but I’ve always had a deep need to put pen to paper.

I started keeping journals in kindergarten and writing short stories soon after. My passion for the written word was something that others seemed to recognize about me. When I started at a small private school in 4th grade, I was told about a statewide writing competition called Power of the Pen, which was for 7th and 8th grade students. My teachers began to groom me for the time when I would be able to compete. I couldn’t practice with the team but I was given books of past winners’ essays and access to the current prompts so that I could practice on my own. I was thrilled when I was old enough to be an official member!

My school had a track record for producing medal winners, and the expectations for me were high. I was pleased to be a part of a team and have something I excelled at, especially as sports were not an option for me given my health. My first year I did alright but didn’t make it past the regional competition and never medaled. That was ok though; I had a year left.

I felt the pressure was on in 8th grade. I narrowly missed a medal in district competition (top 12 received medals and I placed 13th) and again at regionals (15th). Heartbroken I assumed that my days of Power of the Pen were over, but a few weeks later I received word that I had made it to the State competition! However, because I had performed so “poorly” in the past, my principal and coach decided that my coach would not be accompanying me to the tournament, even though it was being held less than a 5 minute drive from our school. My friend’s mother, another teacher at our school, ended up taking the day off to go with me. When I barely missed a spot in the finals I was disappointed but felt I had still done a good job.

My principal felt otherwise. She instructed that no mention of the competition be made to the rest of the school and that it otherwise not be acknowledged. I didn’t deserve any recognition because I had failed the school by never medaling (no one else on the team did either, or place as high as me). My friend’s mother bought me a beautiful commemorative mug and she, my mom (another teacher at the school) and a few students still found a way to mention it on the school radio station my mom helped run, but I was devastated. I felt I had truly let down my school and that I wasn’t a real writer.

I lost my ability to write after that. Whereas the words used to come easily, I lost all the stories in my head. A creative writing class I tried in high school left me in tears each night as I struggled to come up with pieces to write about and the self-doubt as to my abilities. Except for private journaling and research papers for school, I never wrote again, though I always ached to be able to.

Then, last summer, I was asked to speak at the National Marfan Foundation’s annual conference about my personal journey with Marfan syndrome. I was keeping a family blog at the time, just general life updates and pictures of my newborn son. I decided that I’d write a 4 part series about my story and post it in order to get the juices flowing and figure out what to use in my speech. To my shock, people responded to what I wrote! My brother, who already had a successful blog, encouraged me to revamp my site into a place to write about Marfan and my life as a mom, and Musings of a Marfan Mom was born.

It took about 10 years, but I was able to reclaim the part of me that was able to write. I relish the evenings after Menininho goes to bed, where I can turn on the TV, curl up on my bed with my laptop, and write the next day’s blog post. I’m flattered that anyone takes the time to read what I write, but now I know that even if my readership dwindles to 0 tomorrow I am and will always be a writer, and I won’t lose that knowledge again.

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13 Comments

  1. You are truly wonderful!

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  2. We’re glad you got your mojo back! Boo to your sucky middle school principal. BOOOO!

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  3. I’m still trying to get over the shock of what your principal did to you. Seriously, that is terrible. But I’m so glad you found a way to get back to writing!

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  4. You shoudl send your principal a link to this blog post. She should know the harm she has the potential to cause, and that, despite her callous disregard for your feelings, you have risen above her lack of faith in you.

    She should know the impact you are now having on the lives of hundreds/thousands/more(?) people who learn from you and are inspired by your words!

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  5. Wow, what a great story (although sad too!). I think we all have experienced situations in our lives that have affected who we are today, whether good or bad. Thanks to you for your perseverance in following your heart, and becoming a wonderful writer and for sharing your interesting stories with us! Keep up the great work!!!

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  6. Words have power and I think this piece really nails that on the head. We have the power to influence those around us, especially our children. We must use that power to build not break them. I’m so angry that you weren’t celebrated and acknowledged like you should have been, but I’m so glad that you’ve finally found your voice again. Keep writing Maya. You’re great at it! What an inspirational piece.
    Thanks for stopping by Maya! Have a great day.

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

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  7. Popped in from SITS! I’m so glad you’re not letting go of your writing dreams!

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  8. I can really relate to your passion for writing from a young age and I’m appalled by what your principal did to your rising talent. It’s so easy to lose a part of yourself just because someone (who doesn’t necessarily know any better) tells you it’s not ok. So glad you rediscovered your voice. Here’s to many more words and staying in your true calling!

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  9. Your principal was a complete jerk! Sorry, stories like this make me mad, and especially in something as subjective as writing it isn’t always taking a top prize that matters but simply being a contender. I’m glad you found your voice again!

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  10. I think you write beautifully and I completely related to your fist line.. “In my soul, I am a writer. I don’t profess to be excellent or even average, but I’ve always had a deep need to put pen to paper. ”
    Shame on your principal and screw him too.
    Stopped by from SITS and glad I did. :)

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  11. Some teachers (not all!!) can be so heartless. I remember in Grade 9 I *finally* ran a mile without stopping to walk. It took me 9 minutes and 15 seconds. All my PE teacher could say was “so why couldn’t you run it in 7 minutes like your friend here?” grrrr. And I too, lost all confidence in my writing after I worked at a Multinational Corporate as a technical writer. Took me 3 years to be brave enough to try again. So I identify. Good on you!! Stopping by from SITS.

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  12. First – You are an excellent writer and I can’t believe that after knowing you for DECADES (sad that we are in the plural now 😉 I am just now realizing this. YOU ROCK! And second back here in Ohio you are becoming a household blog name. I actually had a conversation the other day that began with “Well Maya actually just blogged about …Oh I know I loved that post…she has such an amazing way of putting her feelings into words” the conversation then went on to relate how your post had given her comfort…if only you knew how much impact your writing has had. Thank you Maya!! Please don’t ever give it up again!

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    marfmom Reply:

    Haha oh my gosh it has been decades! We’re ooooold! :-p

    And thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me!

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