A Voice to Carry You



My book comes out on May 5th, in just a couple days. I’m grateful to so many.

I believe that no one is a self-made person. People enter our lives, whether for a second or a season or decades, and they support us. But perhaps more importantly, they speak into us.

I want to thank two people in particular. In grade school, I had a teacher that I’ll call Ms. Macklin. After we did a short story assignment, she took me aside after class and said, “You need an agent.” At first I thought she said, “You need an Asian.” Maybe she was telling me I needed an Asian friend, since I was the only one in the entire school. But she explained, “A literary agent. You know, to get your work published. It has to be published.”

Before this encounter, I had always wanted to be a writer. I had carried around a notepad since I was five or so. I wrote stories about the ducks at the local pond, especially about this one duck who had a lopsided wing. I made up an entire conspiracy about how the town was polluting the water and causing the ducks to be sideways. The twist: the ducks were fighting each other, and it was the violence that caused them to be lopsided (and yes, they eventually united to stop the pollution too).

Ms. Macklin believed in me. It was really the first time someone had commented on my writing. It put the bug in my ear: “It has to be published.”

In community college, I met Professor Marcus, who preferred to be called Rocky. She smelled like potpourri and was fond of wearing trench coats, probably made of hemp. She took me aside after class (this is a common tactic apparently), and told me, “I say this to everyone but I only mean it once in a blue moon. You have to be a writer.” Rocky coached me. That entire semester she poured into me: how to write, edit, edit, edit, simplify, clarify, amplify. It was hard. It was wonderful. Like an education at Hogwarts. What a gift she was.

Ms. Macklin and Professor Rocky are still a part of me. Their voice, the gentle way they corrected me, their kind way of saying hello when I entered. I was a lonely kid a lot of the time. But they made it bearable. And they made me a writer. Just thinking of them, my heart swells. Where would we be without the people who look us in the eye and with total confidence say, “You, you got the stuff, you got what it takes, and you, I even like you, and I like what you bring into the world” …?

I’m thankful. So thankful for the teachers, leaders, mentors, counselors, therapists, parents, random elders at the airport, the security guards who paused to chat, and the man who helped push my car out of the road after an accident in the rain: each of you made me a writer. I hope I spoke into you even a fraction of what you spoke into me.

I’m thankful for you. In a world such as this, you have been strength and beauty.
— J.S.

6 thoughts on “A Voice to Carry You

  1. JS, congratulations on the new book you have coming on the 5th of May! Your tributes to those who encouraged you to write and honed your gift is awesome.

    God places people in our path who are rays of sunshine, seeing things inside of us that are precious and need nurturing.

    Abundant blessings to you and your family.!!

    Like

  2. I confess I’m jealous. Not that you have a book out, but that such wonderful people spoke into your life and confirmed your gift.

    It’s not that no one has encouraged me, but it’s usually been people in my family. And then, not with such conviction.

    Even though God spoke into my heart years ago and said, “Write for me”, what does that mean? Am I writing what he wants me to write? And I struggle with writer’s insecurity: Does what I write even matter? Is anyone reading it? Does it touch them? Am I getting better, yet?

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing so transparently. I consider myself lucky. At the same time, I did have a ton of terrible voices who I believed for a long, long time. It’s a personal battle for all of us. My hope is you will write to write. Even the questions that you asked are worth writing about.

      Liked by 1 person

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