It's impossible to pinpoint the moment I considered myself a writer. It's more poetic for me to believe that writing was something encoded into my DNA from the moment I first existed, that it hid quietly in my bloodstream and waited patiently for me to learn my ABC's so it could strike.

My mother always carried a pen and paper in her purse to keep me entertained during car rides or long waits at restaurants, and one day I began writing on the back of the kids' menu at Friendly's, filling the leftover pages of my school notebooks with stories to keep myself amused. It never occurred to me what I was doing, only that I enjoyed it.

In the fifth grade, I was blessed with a wonderful teacher who assigned enough writing assignments to make the class groan with dread. Every class has a student like me--You know the one, who writes three pages (front and back, no less) in response to a one-page writing assignment, and then subjects a room of fidgety elementary school students to sit quietly as those pages are read aloud. I even made up a fake book report or two.

It was my fifth grade teacher who introduced the idea that writing could be more than a hobby for me.

At first I thought she was kidding.

"Is writing even a real job?" I asked. To which she replied, "Of course. Someone has to write all those books."

Looking back, this moment was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it made perfect sense at an age in which so few things make sense, and a curse because that was the day I promptly lost interest in virtually everything else. My grades plummeted. I was a girl obsessed.

The obsession has never died. More than a decade after that fateful day with my fifth grade teacher, I am still wholly devoted to my writing. In high school I won the first and only writing contest I would ever enter: The Thornton Wilder Award, to which I submitted a short story entitled Orange Blood (it's buried deep in the dusty tomes of my notebook pages, perhaps never to be seen by daylight again). I received a check for my efforts, and the opportunity to hear my work read aloud. When my parents asked what inspired me to write such a piece, my response was, "I wrote it during math class."

I won't tell you what my math grade was that year.

College did amazing things for my writing. I majored in English with concentration in Creative Writing, and so many wonderful professors at Albertus Magnus College helped me to hone my writing on new and more challenging levels. Finally, a place for me to spread my writerly wings and focus on my one true passion. I looked forward to the roundtable workshops, critiques, peer-editing, and yes, even the red pen marks. It was in my late college years that I began my first novel. Though I'm still unsure if that novel will ever see the light of day, it taught me what I needed to know: I was capable of starting and finishing a whole body of work.

In 2007 I graduated and left the college world behind me. My writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

©2008-2017 Lauren DeStefano. Layout by Harry Lam.
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