Ever since I was a young child I loved to write. I think it started back in the third grade. Our teacher would have us pick pictures from magazines and we would have to write a story about the picture. I remember the first day we did this assignment, I was so scared. I didn’t know if I would be able to write about anything. I looked at the picture I chose and all of a sudden I started to write a story. It actually was fun! I looked forward to those days that we would pick our picture from that old cardboard box.
I wish I had kept all my writings, as it would be wonderful to read what I was thinking back then. It was so much fun sitting at my desk in my room creating magical plays and writing so many stories. One of my dreams was that I was going to write a novel.
However, in just one quick moment all those dreams would be taken away. Why would I allow that to happen? I had now been writing for a few years, I was no longer in the third grade, I was sitting in my 9th grade classroom.
We were reading OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck. Our assignment was to take the book home and finish reading the story and stop right before the last chapter. We were not to read it, just close the book and write the last chapter ourselves. I wasn’t even intimidated about finishing John Steinbeck’s story, it didn’t even occur to me until now that I am writing this post! I just remember being so excited to get started!
I did what I was told. I sat and wrote what I thought should be the ending of this amazing book and the next day handed it in to my teacher.
A few days later the teacher handed out the books to all of us and we were to read the last chapter silently. As I was reading the ending my stomach began to knot up, I know I must have changed several shades of red. I had written an ending almost word for word, identical to Mr. Steinbeck! Instead of being proud and excited, I was sick as I knew I was now in trouble.
To this day I remember that old desk that I sat at, the American Flag to the right of the chalkboard, the posters on the wall and even the aromas coming from the cafeteria, as it was soon going to be lunch. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I didn’t know how I was going to explain this, no one was going to believe that I hadn’t cheated.
The teacher then said those dreaded and expected words, “Someone here decided not to follow directions and copied the last chapter of the book.” She also continued on with a long discussion about plagiarism.
Inside my head I was screaming, “No, I didn’t cheat, I swear, those were my words, I didn’t read the last chapter!” I knew no one would believe me, I just sat there speechless, sickened and sad. I had never cheated or lied in my life and to be accused of something that I hadn’t done was devastating.
My dreams were stolen that day. I never wrote again until now, almost 40 years later; as I write on this blog. Would I have written that novel by now if that hadn’t happened? I will never know, but it’s never too late!