by Kate White
September 19, 2012
In some ways I guess you could say I owe being an author to a stubborn mallard duck. When I was in first grade, the teacher gave everyone in the class a very basic writing assignment. I don’t recall exactly what it was—it might have been simply to practice our letters—but I vividly remember that I chose to ignore her instructions.
Instead, I wrote a little story about my grandfather taking me to see the ducks. I described—obviously in the most rudimentary way, since I was no genius—how when we were about to drive away, we noticed a duck squatting in the middle of the road. It refused to budge. My grandfather went over to shoo it out of the way, and the duck startled both of us by taking off in flight.
Even though that was long ago, I still recall how compelled I was to tell my story—despite the fact that I’d been instructed to do something else. A day or two later, the teacher passed back all the stories except mine, and then she asked me to come to the front of the classroom. I realized that I was in trouble. I’d broken the rules, and now I was about to be humiliated in front of everyone. I felt utter shame as I walked to the front of the room
But instead of chastising me, my first grade teacher asked me to read my story to the rest of the class and also the class next door to us. Then she mounted it on construction paper and hung it on the wall (let’s hear it for good teachers!). What an awesome rush I felt that day. At 6, I got to experience not only the exquisite pleasure that comes from writing a story, but also the thrill of being praised for it. That’s when I began dreaming about being a published writer.