I'm 36, and I think alot about different things that have led up to this time in my life when what was considered a hobby, always a passion-is now taking center stage. Despite the fiasco that has been Publish America, I did get a book published. It came from a story I had written when I was in about the 10th-11th grade. It was a three page story give or take about a young woman who felt she had nothing-lived in a hum drum town, and meets up with a man that like her was caged by his own demons, yet they find eachother. Looking back at it, it was pretty wishy washy. I just happened to be cleaning out a rubbermaid tub in my closet when I came across it. For some reason, a reason I still don't know-I caught an idea that I quickly dismissed. However, I couldn't get the story that was going on inside my head to just lay down and die so when I was at the store, I bought up a few notebooks and hence Night of the Guardians or Renegade Night as it is known now was born. I for some reason am thinking about one of the best pieces of advice I ever got, and it was from my 7th grade English teacher, Mr.James Hensley.
Mr.Hensley was one of those rare breed of teachers that didn't show up every day to collect a check or preached some state required English lesson plan. No, Mr.Hensley was his own Mr.Holland. Every month, we got a poem(Mine to this day is Little Orphan Annie-I used to scare my younger siblings with it)to read through and memorize and then say in front of the class. If for some reason Mr.Hensley thought we had done a good job, he would video tape us. I had been video taped twice. Once was for Twas the Night Before Christmas and the second time was at the end of the year. I remember that day like it was yesterday. All of us were told we could read whatever poem we had done that year. My second favorite poem was Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allen Poe and that was the one I wanted to do! However, after class, he had asked me to stay after. I sat, waiting until everyone had filed out and it was just me and Mr.Hensley. He walked over and sat in the desk next to me and handed me a piece of paper. It was a poem called, Strawberry Hills that I had written and gave to him. I don't know why I had given him one of my poems, because unlike story writing, my poetry is just too personal and private. I think I must have given it to him because I wanted to see what he thought and because I dearly loved him-and trusted him. I remember thinking, "Oh he hates it! Why did I give him this?" but what he told me shocked me! "Nicole, this is the poem I want you to give for your presentation. You have so much talent, and Annabelle Lee would be a poor representation of everything you've learned about poetry." I can remember feeling sick at my stomach! I couldn't read my poem in front of my class-what if they laughed? What if they made fun? I wasn't popular and I wasn't the type of girl that everyone just fell in love with! I had friends and was liked but I wasn't one of "those girls". There was no way I was reading this poem! I didn't want to be mocked forever! I think we can all agree, kids can be cruel. Mr.Hensley took my hand and patted it, and told me he knew exactly what I was feeling, but this poem was just too good to not share. He believed in me, and I found myself nodding and accepting to read my poem for the class. A few weeks later, and after most of the class had read their poems, it was my turn. I stood up in front at the podeum, and I got stage fright. I couldn't utter one stanza let alone say the whole thing. Mr.Hensley was smiling in back of the class and winked at me. For some reason, perhaps divine intervention, my nerves subsided and I began to read. I remember after I read it, the room was silent. No hoards of applause or anything. The next day, Mr.Hensley asked us as a class to vote for our favorite poem that was read the day before. I voted for Steven Aldridge because he had read Annabelle Lee and had read it as if he was Edgar Allen Poe. Everyone had clapped so he got my vote. When the votes had been tallied Mr.Hensley read the names of the three that would be video taped and recorded for future classes. Stacy Wright, Steven Aldridge, and suprisingly to me-MY POEM would be one of the 3! I didn't know how to think or feel. My classmates or some of them anyhow had voted for mine! I don't know why but visions of Stephen King's Carrie was coming to mind. Was I voted for as a joke but after class, many girls even those whom weren't in my social circle was congratulating me. Even Steven had said he liked my poem. Later that week, we all met after school and read our poems infront of Mr.Hensley's video camera. After I read, he told me, "I can see great things for you Nicole. Don't ever give up on writing-it's your talent and I'll be looking for great things from you!" I look back, and I'm not a best seller and I've been a real procrastinator on finishing school. 36, I'm late to the game of being an accomplished author. The road is still long, long, long, but I'm ready to start paying my dues. So I guess what I want each of you that read this to take from this is no matter where you are in life-don't give up on things you are passionate about! You may not become Hollywood's next big thing or a world class musician or performer or even a best selling author, but if you give up then ask yourself-can you live with the fact you had this great talent-this great passion, and you never tried? For me, I can't live with that! I can't live with not ever knowing. So don't give up-keep trying! Keep honing your skills and talents!Never take "no" for an answer, even if it's you that keeps asking the question! CARPE DIEM..no Carpe La Vie! Seize the Life! You only get one!