My little kindergarten hand felt the need for artistic and creative writing, so a pencil and a blank wall in our home were my first canvas, so to speak. Since my mother didn’t appreciate the true beauty of this, I denied it when questioned and blamed my younger sister. Mom did not, however, buy that.

Katie Kindergarten

Yup, that’s me

So it was in the fourth grade that I REALLY started to write. I sat on my bed one weekend; notebook on my lap and pencil in hand, writing the beginning of a story about a little girl whose parents were divorced. Something I could relate to, but I made it fiction. It had humor and seriousness all rolled into one.

I was excited about it. I wanted to share it with someone. Monday morning came and I packed it in my backpack to take to school. Shyly, I handed it to my teacher as we were getting our day started.

She read it while we were at recess and to my surprise when we came in she had me read it out loud to the class. Mrs. Stoner and the rest of my fourth grade class praised me for my work. They encouraged me to keep going. Weekly, I wrote a chapter to share with my class.

It was the first time that I felt good at something. The first time I realized that I had a little bit of talent. Their encouragement and support gave me confidence.

The rest of my school days, I embraced creative writing assignments. Looked forward to them even. While continuing to write creatively on my own, for fun. In high school, I wrote for the school paper.

Teacher upon teacher told me that if I didn’t go into journalism my talent would be wasted. My newspaper advisor, Mr. Steinken, believed in me so much that he even submitted one of my articles to the 1999 LA Times National Scholastic Press Association’s competition for high school writers, even after I told him that I didn’t want to enter. I will never forget the day that he handed me a fat, heavy envelope with the return address from the Los Angeles Times. I was upset that he went behind my back and submitted it after I told him ‘no’. He just laughed and told me to open it. So I did.

Katie Story AwardThere was a real plaque, wood with the NSPA seal and all. I did not win first. I didn’t even win second or third place. But I did get fourth, Honorable Mention, for the feature piece on my eating disorder. Out of the whole nation, I was number four. That was huge! My mind was blown and spinning.

I was no longer mad, just thankful that I had someone who believed in me enough to go against my wishes because they knew I was wrong. It was first time that I realized my story needed to be out in the world to help others.

I can’t say after graduation I dove into my amazing writing career. No, I went into education instead, married my handsome husband, Rick, the love of my life, moved from my Midwest home to Idaho.

We have three wonderfully, gorgeous children. Ryan (my awesome adopted son), who serves our nation as a K-9 Staff Sergeant with the United States Air Force. Caleb and Emma are our miracle twins; my sweet boy with a huge side of humor and my sassy, little dancer. My family is my world. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.

Raising my kids and watching them grow has been one of the biggest blessings I have ever had, but God is pushing me to use my now-hidden talent to touch the world and grow myself. I want to write for myself – to feel accomplished, leave my mark and make a difference. For my kids – to show them that talents and dreams are always possible, no matter how long you put them off. I do it for those teachers who encouraged me – to thank them for believing in me when I didn’t have the courage to believe in myself. And for God – cause when He says jump, I answer!

The Flying M-Inklings is a gift to be a part of. They have become my other family, my brothers and sisters, my support and encouragement for this chapter in my life. Our time together is truly therapeutic. Group sessions if you will. I want to see myself through their eyes, because they love me and think I am great. Talk about confidence builders!

Journey with me if you dare, through the rough writing and maybe some great. I look forward to possibility and dreams. And a new canvas, a modern wall to write on, a website.

Katie Collage

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