Why We Write

February 24, 2008

Why We Write – Number 50: Reader-Submitted Essay

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Craig @ 6:39 pm

Number 50

Today’s piece is written by Carrie Higuera, Creator/Writer of absolutely nothing. 


I knew what I wanted to do when I was very young.  I lost sight of that in the last decade or so, but in the last year I’ve re-discovered writing and how much I miss it.  It all started when I was not quite three years old.  I was hospitalized with h. flu meningitis and I spent ten days in hospital with my parents at my bedside, night and day.  Once I was declared out of the woods by my doctor, my parents felt confident enough to spend a night at home for a decent night’s sleep.  The next morning, the nurse wanted to know how my parents were able to manage with so many other children at home, while they spent all of their days and nights at the hospital with me.  The nurse asked specifically about my little sister Susie and Mark, and the twins.  She had names and ages for all the children and the poor nurse just couldn’t understand how my parents could leave them alone for so many days and nights without so much as a hello.    My parents were, rightfully, shocked and embarrassed.  At the time, I was an only child.  I continued to be an only child for four more years before my one an only sister was born.  My poor parents had to apologize and explain my overactive imagination to the sympathetic nurse, which they called “lying” out of her earshot.  Eventually, I learned to curb my “lying” by writing things down instead of gabbing to whoever would listen.

Stories have always intrigued me.  I read profusely as a child, Ramona Quimby books in first grade, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in second, The Black Stallion series in the summer after second grade, I finished War and Peace in the third grade (ok, I read that on a bet), and then I started with books I then later had to reread in high school and college.  Television and movies also consumed most of my non reading hours.  I was fascinated by words, how characters said words and by the emotion, or lack thereof, the character felt.  I KNEW I wanted to be a writer, there was no question.  I did everything I could to prepare myself as a writer, including taking AP English as a senior in high school.

So naturally, when it was time for me to choose a major in college, I chose business.  Yep, business.  I stoically took my Microeconomics, Global Management, Statistics, Business Law and Creative Writing classes that first semester.  I was miserable.  Beyond miserable.  If it had not been for Creative Writing, I would have dropped out of college before that first year was up.  Granted, I did like the Business Law class but that follows suit doesn’t it?  Law is about people and our lives are essentially stories…so and so did this to that person, they retaliated, etc.  Aside from Business Law, I dropped statistics, barely passed Microeconomics and I honestly have no idea how I did in Global Management.  Creative Writing was my salvation.  After that first semester, I switched my major from Business to English with a writing emphasis and blissfully finished college. 

And because I was a complete and total twit, I followed my friends into the teaching profession after earning my BA.  I continued on at the same school to earn my teaching degree, seemingly on course with a distinct and honorable career choice.  It was during one of my teaching placements that a long expired memory surfaced.  In the eighth grade, my math teacher’s wife passed away near the end of the school year.  We were asked to send a little note or some small kindness to him.  I wrote a somewhat lengthy poem, placed it in an envelope and left it on his desk.  Our class never saw our teacher again and I never thought twice about that poem.

During my student teaching placement, I was placed into a first grade classroom with a seasoned teacher, directly across the street from my former math teacher’s home.  I soon learned he was a frequent visitor and a member of the school board.  I will never forget what then transpired.  He came in that first day and stared at me.  I thought nothing of it, I was sure he recognized me as some student he must have taught at one point.  I was busy working with the children and we did not have the chance to say hello.  The following week, he came in and as the teacher I worked with began to introduce us, my former math teacher said that he knew who I was.  I replied that he had been my math teacher in the seventh and eighth grades.  And he then said that no, he knew my name.  He then teared up.  I was taken aback to say the least, what on earth did I do to make this kind man cry?  I honestly had no idea.  He then said that I was the one who had written the poem when his wife died.  And then it all came back to me.  How on earth could someone remember something I wrote (and considered so insignificant) nearly a decade later?  I was floored.  He went on to say that he really just wanted to thank me and that he had never gotten that chance and had hoped we’d meet me again one day to thank me, all for a simple poem.  Wow.  It is a feeling I will never forget.

As if meeting my former math teacher was not amazing enough, I met yet another person who remembered me for a poem I had written.  This time, I was in a sixth grade student teaching placement and the third grade teacher at this new school remembered me as an eleven year old.  Holy smokes.  She brought in a hand full of poems I had written and shared them with me.  Again, it was a feeling of complete amazement that this woman remembered me because of a few poems I had written.  I can only imagine what real writers feel when they watch an audience who appreciates what they’ve written.  It must be incredible.

Ah well, life happens.  I did not follow my dreams of becoming a writer.  I’m no longer a teacher either, loved the kids…hated the parents.  I’m a parent myself now and had the chance to take a step back this past year and look at what it is I love.  My love of stories has not changed, nor will it ever.  I think back on that feeling I got and what an amazing, confusing and admittedly, what a thrill it was to have someone remember a small little nothing that I once wrote.  Not long ago, I sat down to write something I’ve had roaming about my brain for literally years, anxious to start putting it to paper.  I stared at a blank page and cursed myself for having no idea where to start.  The joys of writing, huh?  It is so much more difficult than I remember it being.  I had big dreams as a child.

I can only imagine what it must be like to write something an entire nation (and beyond) tunes in for each week, to see your written words personified.  I will continue to be envious of all of you who are lucky enough to write for a living and I will continue to write myself, even if what I write never leaves the confines of my computer, because it is still so much a part of me.  I watch television and movies because I know a writer has written all that I am watching, and for that, all you writers out there have my utmost respect and full support.  Thank you for all that you have written and for all that you have yet to write.


WHY WE WRITE is a series of essays by prominent – and not so prominent – TV and Film writers.  Conceived by Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, the campaign hopes to inspire and inform all writers.  If you’d like to comment, or tell us why you write, visit the Why We Write WordPress site or contact us at whywewrite@gmail.com.

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