My Story Starts at the Round Table

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Missy Stevens, Wonder Friend

 

 

 

 

 

Missy Stevens writes, blogs, raises a couple boys with a very good man, and fails at homemaking in Austin, Texas. She’s a reformed social media addict, meaning she’s only on Facebook and Twitter part of every day now. You can also find her once a week or so on her blog, Wonder, Friend.

When I was in third grade I had to do a project based on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I had a snack, watched an ABC After School Special, and buckled down to do my work. Seconds later I was at an impasse, unsure if the king’s name was spelled Arthur or Author.

I sat at my desk, the creamy one with little flecks of gold in the finish and golden trim on the edges, and made a decision: I could get the encyclopedia and look up the correct spelling for this king’s name. I am sure, though, that people who write books are authors, so I’m just going to run with that. I am going to write about King Author and the Knights of the Square Table.

Even for an eight-year-old, simply changing spelling and shape was not an act of genius. Yet, my story was a hit. Changing those details freed me up to play with other elements and create my own version.* My teacher read it to the class and pinned it to the bulletin board.

I’m shy. The teacher’s attention horrified me. Horror and all, I couldn’t deny the thrill of reaching people through my story. After that, I never stopped writing.

But I never called myself a writer.

Through yearbook staffs, a stint on the college newspaper, English and journalism degrees, gainful employment as a copywriter and editor, I never called myself a writer. What if someone asked, Well, what do you write?

What do I write? Just crap was the answer rattling around in my head. I assumed I would never write anything substantial, because I’m a first-born-people-pleaser. I was terrified of writing something that might offend a friend or family member or anyone I had ever met. The terror created a din of self doubt.

And then.

After having my second son, I struggled with baby blues and feeling inadequate. I Googled something along the lines of “Will I ever be able to handle having two children? Dear God in Heaven, this really sucks,” and found Heather Armstrong. Hers was my gateway blog, leading to a full-blown blog reading habit.

I began to wonder if maybe… I could blog, too? When my youngest was around ten months old and the baby blues were long gone, I did just that. Through blogging I’ve shed some of that people-pleasing-paranoia. I’m still shy, and it’s scary to write in a public space. I am who I am, those feelings linger. They’re just quieter now.

Now, I’m way more afraid of not writing than I am of offending anyone. I believe in the power of words. I believe, to paraphrase Spiderman’s grandmother, that power comes with responsibility. Using that power doesn’t mean my words will resonate with everyone. My brand of humor and sarcasm have been misunderstood before; they will be again. Using the power of words means, simply, that I will always do my best to tell my stories honestly.

Now, I say I’m a writer. I tell people that I’m working  -  slowly  -  on a fiction project, experimenting with some non-fiction, and of course, blogging. I don’t have a lot of public success under my belt; I have collected some no thank you’s.

I’m good with that. It means I’m writing. It means I will forever hold a tender place for King Arthur and his knights, for it was their stories that first opened the door to mine.

*I illustrated my story, too. I put my thumb on a stamp pad, and made thumbprint knights. Over the years I also made thumbprint mice, elves, pigs, and more. I was a gifted thumbprint artist.

If you’d like to read more from Missy, please check out these links:

The Risk-Free Midlife Crisis

Hashtag Your Life

Today

Early Bird Dinners Rock

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  • Missy

    Thank you for having me here today, Erin!

  • Gigi927

    I love hearing about how it all started for you, Missy! :) xoxo

    • Missy

      Thanks, friend!

  • Jef

    I think you’re a very compelling writer, Missy.  I still get nervous about writing some topics, too, but I figure that I’m an equal opportunity offender.

    • Missy

      That’s a great way to look at it, Jef. And thank you for the incredibly kind words.

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    I love that you changed it to a square table.  And that you are okay with putting yourself out there. Nicely written, Missy. xo

    • Missy

      Thanks, Elaine! It’s so funny to me now that changing the shape seemed so clever at the time. To be 8… And if only we could hold on to that confidence, right?

  • IASoupMama

    So nice to meet you!  What a fun, creative kid you must have been!  And slipping on the title of “writer” seems sort of difficult, doesn’t it?  I’m still not sure I’d answer that, yes, I am a writer if anyone were to ask.

    • Missy

      Nice to meet you, as well! It’s true – that title is daunting. But I highly recommend kicking the fear to the curb!

  • http://terrisonoda.net/ Terri Sonoda

    Well, there’s no mistaking that you are a writer, Missy! Very nice post. I enjoyed your story. Funny, these days I get caught on words when right in the middle of an important scene of my story, and it shuts me down completely. For awhile. Sometimes a word just doesn’t look like itself.  LOL I hope that makes sense. It sure does trip me up, even at my ripe old age. Nice to meet you Missy!

    • Missy

      Makes perfect sense. It’s amazing how many ways we can trip up and stall our progress, isn’t it? Sometimes it all starts to look wonky and we have to fight our way back! Nice meeting you, too, Terri.

  • http://twitter.com/mommyhoodnxtrt Jessica F. Hinton

    Yes, yes, you are a writer. I think your story is one that is shared by so many writers. I, too, didn’t start calling myself a writer until this year because I was afraid that I would be judged for it. But, now, now I do call myself a writer, and I’m proud of it! :)

    • Missy

      It’s so much more fun to feel proud. When I think of the time I wasted feeling afraid… Well, I just don’t think of it much anymore. It’s like going backward. So glad you are proudly wearing your writer title these days!

  • http://genieinablog.com. Leigh Ann

    “The teacher’s attention horrified me.” YES. It’s horrific and a rush all at once. Such a complicated feeling (and exactly how I felt upon getting the LTYM acceptance letter). 

    I think artists in general feel this way a lot of times. We are so introverted, but we so long to share our words. And hearing the no thank you’s just means that you’re putting yourself out there.

    • Missy

      Yes – LTYM felt an awful lot like being singled out by the teacher! I feel like I’m always saying (figuratively), “Read this!” while hiding my face. Does that make sense?

      PS – Thanks for the tweet. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    YOU are one of my very favorite writers, with or without the thumbprint illustrations.

    I’ve been off the grid for over a week and am just catching up so I’m grateful to find you here at Erin’s, another of my very favorite writers.

    Let me say here now, you both need to keep stringing words together. 
    Because WE, your audience, need to keep reading them.

    XO