Please welcome Alexandra and take a few moments to read her thoughts and relish her gorgeous expression of thought.
WRITING WHILE FORTY—Life As a Dress Rehearsal
As I turn 40 in two months, I have come to realize that life is a dress rehearsal designed to prepare you for your purpose. Writing has always been a part of me. I sometimes think that I nursed a sippy cup with one hand and a No. 2 pencil with another. Stories have always been deeply rooted in me like flowered vines winding themselves through the trellis of my being. Words rock me in their womb, soothing like a salve and amnesiac like a blunt force. Whether read or written, words anesthetize the harsh realities of my world.
Even though words had this profound effect on me, through kismet or outside influences, I chose a different path for seventeen years. I became a secondary English teacher. Words & I still danced with each other, interconnected like ampersands. Ideas still flowed out of me. Embryonic stories & poems turned orphans thanks, to the 24/7 time commitment of teaching.
I still wielded words into emotion-tinged poetry—or emoetry as I like to call it—when someone or something knocked me off-kilter. I wrote with my students and created stories to teach literary and writing concepts for my sister, who is also an elementary teacher.
But instilling the love of literature and writing into young minds took precedence.
My teaching journey led me to diverse learning communities filled with struggling readers & writers who not only wrestled with the written word, but also with adult-sized realities hemmed inside social and economic constructs. Along the way, I entered the world of academia and taught writing to freshmen.
Then life happened. A succession of illnesses and ups-and-downs literally disintegrated the boundaries of my existence. I came back to writing, the heartbreaker returning to the jilted and neglected lover. The muse welcomed me back. Strands of stories and poems, real and imagined experiences, spun out in strands from my fingers, my mind unraveling them from its skein.
So I decided to submit some of my writing. Ahh, the sweet sorrow of rejection. I received so many rejection letters that they became the new wallpaper of my workspace. I became discouraged. I doubted my ability to write and thought that I was too old to pursue this publishing thing. I originally chose a different path, and I must deal with the consequences of that choice.
Then middle age tapped on me on the shoulder. I decided to peck the keyboard again and throw my anchor out into the writing sea again.
In addition to my desire to publish contemporary writing and young adult literature, I wanted to share my experiences with others. For years, I had the idea of the use of technology to introduce people, especially teachers, to the use of story to teach reading and writing concepts and introduce them to unknown young adult writers whose books could impact adolescents.
So I did what every writer does: I started a blog As I wrote posts, I saw formally rejected pieces serving a different purpose and my experiences informing my writing and life with growth.
Pursuing writing full-time now has taught me a valuable lesson: life is a dress rehearsal. Things that we see as setbacks serve a greater purpose in guiding us to where we should be. Now the woman and writer that I am going to be in middle age are joining the dance with my muse and me.
And the seamlessness of our movements is leading my writing into its own middle age.
Alexandra Caselle is an aspiring, native Floridian writer and poet. She maintains two blogs: Womanlution: Inside the Mind of Alexandra Caselle (http://womanlution.wordpress.com) , a blog of young adult literature reviews, original YA and literary/reading concept stories, teaching memoirs, and a little something of everything and Rhet Effects (http://rheteffects.wordpress.com) , a blog about writing and writing conventions through the art of the story. She aims to change the literary and educational world, one story at a time. She is currently working on a novel and a book of poetry. She also is known to hang out on Twitter, Facebook, & SheWrites.
I feel inspired and hope you do too. Thank you, Alexandra.