Margaret by Karen Hogan //

Reflections by Kelly Corbray //

It has been the influence of many people in my life that has brought me to the love of writing. I learned to read by the time I was 3 years old, according to my mother. I believe that this statement is based upon at least partial truth because I don’t remember a time that I struggled with reading or learning letters as most children do. I also remember sitting on the couch one day, running my finger along the page as I read a book to my mother at around that age. No, I don’t have any idea what the book was called or even the storyline. What I can remember about that afternoon was the pride I felt at being able to read to my mom as she had done for me countless times before. My mother had a way of encouraging me in everything I was doing that gave me the feeling that she knew I could do whatever I set out to do and because of this sense of awe showed to me every time I accomplished a goal, I think it made it easier for me to reach new ones. After those early years I never went far without a book in my hand.
When I was around ten years old, we stayed in California with my aunt for a few months. My aunt seemed to me to be a considerably stern woman. While in her home, rules had dominion over such paltry things as acknowledgement and fun. She is the elder sister and, in a way, seemed to overshadow my mother in her parenting style; which could easily be called strict and some (I) could even call it militant. My sisters and I found ourselves striving to please her so that we would not be grounded or punished in any way. Christmas came that year and, effectively annihilating our excitement and exuberance, we received tons of underwear and not much else from her as presents while a cousin received a beautiful new stereo. She did manage, however to hit one beautiful note for me in the form of the novel, Heidi by Johanna Spyri. This book was for me, a beacon to follow out of the darkness of my disappointment. I felt empowered by the knowledge that she had taken interest in me enough to realize my love of reading. And then I opened the book and fell into the beautiful story of a young girl coming into knowledge of self. This book and the beauty of the author's fluidity of description and poetic style showed me what literature could really be. I could see myself in Heidi and Heidi in me. It is as if, without an emotional display similar to my mother’s, my aunt was able to identify within me the need for recognition as well as my thirst for adventure. Heidi remains to this day one of my favorite childhood memories.
My love of writing was shaped none too differently. I had two teachers in high school who took it upon themselves to really focus on their students and foster in them a love of knowledge. I was in the ninth grade when my English teacher noticed that I was inventive with the use of words in my poetry and encouraged me to write more. This encouragement eventually led to her suggestion that I take honors English in the 10th grade. By the time tenth grade rolled around, I had found a love of poetry but didn’t have knowledge of much else in the world of writing. Everything changed when my world history teacher came into the picture. He was so excited about the essay and the structure of it that that love infected our whole class. The first time he had us write was eye opening for everyone involved. Without our noticing, just before he began to explain to use the structure of an essay, he put on classical music. After his explanation, he gave us free reign to write our five paragraph essays and we got to work. I remember that I found it simple to think of ideas and the support for my thesis. When we finished, he brought out notice to the music and taught us how classical music can help with brain function, asking everyone how they felt while the music was playing, was it easier or harder to write than usual, etc. I had seen the difference in my own writing and enjoyed his teaching style so much that even though history was not remotely close to being my favorite subject, his was my favorite class. Showing us that writing is a system and following that system will create a good product every time, no matter if you enjoy the subject was the thing that made me excited to put pen to paper. The sense of accomplishment that I feel when a poem or a paper I have written are complete has remained with me to this day.
I know that if I had not found such a passion for reading I would not enjoy the writing process nearly as much as I do. It is the unity of the literary process that I endeavor to inspire in those around me. If I could spend the rest of my time on earth inspiring others to have as much of a love of literature as I do, I would call mine an accomplished life.