Friday, January 17, 2014

For the Love of Writing - Genetic or Learned?

As I was writing my goals post earlier this month, and I was reflecting on what I've accomplished, I began to think about how I got to this point in my life. Where did my passion for writing come from? I can easily point the finger at my Great Aunt Betty.

When I was younger, my mother and I would take a yearly trip to Buffalo and spend a week with my aunt Betty. I loved these trips. Not just because I got spoiled rotten on them (I am an only child after all) but because my mother and I would sit for hours and listen to aunt Betty talk about her writing. She would tell us stories of the stories she was writing. She'd embellish tales of her writers group and what they were up to.

I remember one year we visited and aunt Betty presented us with an anthology that her writers group published.

Aunt Betty has two stories included, both of which are non-fiction, memoir type pieces.

A Little Ole Candy Bar is about my maternal grandmother, Jane, who passed away when I was young, so it was nice to get to know her through this story.

Not only did I have the wonderful influence of my aunt Betty, my own mother influenced me a lot. She's a writer, too. God love her though, she's stuck in the eighties. See what I mean?

Yup. My mother doesn't own a computer and handwrites everything! But she has such a passion for it, she doesn't mind. Unlike aunt Betty, my mother has never been published and she has no desire to be. She writes because she has a story to tell. And she's happy, so really, what else matters?

Then, of course, there's me. I've written a lot and have been fairly successfully with getting my stuff published. At home, I'm always either writing or reading. I'm discussing my career with my husband. I talk books with my oldest daughter, who has more books on her shelves than I do. We make trips to the library and the bookstore. And I even drag my kids to the office supply store -- it's like a grown-up toy store for writers!

Anyway, I digress. Recently I've noticed my eight year old daughter is constantly writing short little stories and drawing pictures to go along with them. She's always snagging my notebooks and asking for paper. It's cute, and it warms my heart to see her enjoy it so much.

Shailynn & Mrs. Hogan
However, what truly prompted this post was my twelve year old daughter, Shailynn. Her English teacher gave an assignment in which she had to write an essay. The topic: What Patriotism Means to Me. My lovely daughter -- who thinks the world revolves around boys and cheerleading -- forgot about the assignment. So, not wanting to get in trouble for not having her homework done, she wrote it on the bus on the way to school that morning.

Turns out this "assignment" was actually a voluntary thing hosted by our local VFW. It's the Patriot's Pen Essay contest that offers prize money and scholarships. Well, much to my surprise, Shailynn's essay was chosen as a winner!

She won at the local level, district level, county level, and even had her essay sent to Albany for the state level competition. At the end of December, we were invited to attend an awards banquet. Here's my daughter with her awards:

During this banquet we learned that Shailynn placed 3rd in the entire state of New York!! Woo hoo! (Yes, I'm bragging. I won't apologize. I'm a pretty proud mom right now!) In March we will be traveling to our state's capital so that Shailynn can once again be honored for her achievement and receive a small college scholarship.

So, what's the point of all this you ask? Well, I'm this legacy of writing passed from generation to generation genetically? Is there something in our DNA that predisposes the women in my family to write? Or is this simple case of a child's surroundings, their upbringing, influencing their beliefs and actions? I'm curious what everyone else thinks. Share your thoughts in the comments.