Friday, 2 August 2013

THE FREE VERSE POEM THAT STARTED ME WRITING

The following post is an entry in a writing contest held by the Positive Writers blog. hosted by Bryan Hutchinson. It's about the moment when people first knew for sure that they were writers. Prizes are Amazon gift cards worth $75.00, $50.00, and $25.00. Contest ends on August 30, 2013. Click on "Positive Writers" to read the contest rules.

When does a writer become a writer? With some people, this is an easy question to answer. Others drift into the craft. For me, it was a free verse poem in the Victoria Com posit High School's Redman newspaper that showed me that what I wrote was worth publishing.

I'm not sure where or when I heard the announcement but the school's journalism program wanted students to submit their work for possible publication. After thinking it over, I decided to write something and submit it. But what could I write? I spent considerable time thinking about that question. Then inspiration struck.

I wrote a free verse poem which likened the year to the timeless battle between the forces of cold and heat. Being legally blind, scribbling out my words on paper was tedious. In fact, my nose was almost touching the page as I wrote. Even so, I persisted until I had all the verses for the twelve months written. Then I nervously handed my poem in to the editor and waited.

To my delight, the Redman published my poem in February, 1973. Of all the people I showed it to, my dad was the most amazed. "I've learned more about you in the past five minutes than I did during your whole life," He remarked as he handed me back the paper.

I wish I still had that poem. Bad though it might have been compared to the works of famous poets, it was special to me. That was the first time my work appeared in print.

Two decades later, I bought my first computer. It had a synthetic voice attachment which converted the text on the screen into synthetic speech. The world of writing opened up for me as I learned how to use WordPerfect 5.1 and submitted my electronic music album reviews on floppy disks to the Voyager fan magazine in England. Two years later, I bought a modem and went online. After being put on disability from my government job, an employment counselor read my tear sheets and suggested I become a professional writer.

Finding paying work was difficult but I sold a filler article about a blind choir to New Age Journal the next year. I beamed with pride as I deposited that $15.00 cheque in my bank account. It was the first time anybody had paid me for my writing work.

I've also written three memoirs and self published them. Read about When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and living With Bunnies and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School at Bruce Atchison's books. My new memoir called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers