Timeline Story: 2. First Contest Submission and the Writing Bug

This is the second post in a series sharing my Timeline Story, a look at the events, experiences and occupations that have contributed to shaping my business and writing life to the present. The first post is found at this link.

As the days in elementary school began to pass by, I grew increasingly fond of books and words. Learning to write words down on paper gave me a sense of power and fulfillment, even at that early age.

Most things came easily for me, and I found myself experiencing pride and elation over good grades. Not to mention having a good time.

It wasn't until sixth grade that the writing bug bit in a serious way.

Our teacher announced an essay contest among all sixth graders early in the year. The contest was sponsored by the Hermitage Auxiliary Foundation, an arm of the Hermitage Museum and Gardens.

The contest required an essay on a topic closely related to the history of Andrew Jackson. The three top winners would be presented at The Hermitage, home of Andrew and Rachel Jackson in a ceremony with photographers from a local newspaper.*

My excitement palpable I found it hard to wait patiently to head home and get to work. I chose to write on Jackson's role at The Battle of New Orléans, the last major battle of The War of 1812. Major General Jackson's reputation was boosted because of his actions and the result of this battle, opening his path to the Office of President of the United States.

Battle of New Orleans with General Andrew Jackson | Attribution: History Channel

Battle of New Orleans with General Andrew Jackson | Attribution: History Channel

I submitted my essay and waited, and waited, and waited. Often being among the first to submit creates what seems like interminable waiting. But I felt I had a good essay and, therefore, a good chance of coming in among the top three. I was ready!

Finally, right before Christmas holidays, our principal announced the three winners. Third place went to a boy in another grade. Second place to my friend, Linda, in my classroom. It couldn't be possible that I'd win first place. So I sat back and waited to hear who had won the big prize.

And then I heard my name called, and the principal invited me to the stage. I experienced my first stage fright then and there.

The three of us attended the ceremony at The Hermitage on the coldest winter day that January, January 8th, the actual day the war ended in New Orléans. We received monetary prizes as well as certificates of accomplishment, not to mention the cookies and cider waiting inside out of the cold.

It was then I knew with certainty that some day I would write. I had no way of knowing what I would write or when but write I would. Here the dreams of my journey to writing began.

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UP NEXT: The third installment will bring the high points in my writing throughout high school and college.

*Somewhere, but I don't know which somewhere, are copies of newspaper photos and my original certificate, perhaps misplaced during my mother's move several years ago.