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Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

One of my first words was "read.” I would follow Mom or Dad around the house with a picture book and say "read" over and over until I got what I wanted. As I got older, they read me chapter books, too. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. 

For a while, I had trouble reading. My eyes couldn't track well across the page, so I would claim loudly and vehemently that I couldn't read. I remember feeling angry and embarrassed that I couldn’t easily do what it looked like everyone else was doing. 

After a trip to a holistic dentist who opened my airway, I was able to sleep through the night, and suddenly it was much easier to read. I went from struggling to read a page to finishing chapter books in a day. I was nine years old. 

According to Mom, Dad started to read Julie of the Wolves to me, but when my siblings made it hard for Dad to read, I took the book and finished it myself. It was the first chapter book in my long list of conquests. 

I don't know exactly how I picked the book out of all the ones to choose from on the library's new shelf, but somehow, one day I went home with The Capture, by Kathryn Lasky.

 It was a fantasy about owls. I found the cover intriguing and beautiful: A single yellow eye in a brown-feathered owl's face, peering between sparse fir branches. Just above the owl’s head was a glimpse of black night sky with white stars. On the left side was a vertical strip of brown that continued onto the spine, and running sideways up the strip in fancy gold lettering was the series title: Guardians of Ga’Hoole. 

The story opened with a prologue in which an owlet was falling out of his nest. Then Chapter One jumped back into his memories from before he fell. Eventually, the memories caught up with the fall, and the story went on.

I was enthralled.

I found everything about the story, the characters, descriptions, and situations, captivating. The tenseness of the first book, with the looming threat of time running out, and what happened after the clock ticked down, kept me excitedly on the edge of my seat. 

I waited for the next book to come out, and every time another appeared on the new shelf, I was fantastically elated. My mother would comment on my “thousand-watt smile” whenever I brought home the next Guardians of Ga’Hoole book.

The story went on and on, taking twists and turns that delighted me to no end. The stakes got ever higher and higher, until everything climaxed in a grand ending which I thoroughly enjoyed.

At the beginning of the fifteenth book, I found a letter from the author. It was addressed to Dear reader, and said originally, the author was going to stop at book six. However, the story hadn’t seemed finished, and so it went on, all the way to book fifteen. The author thought this was a good place to end the story of Soren and all his friends. She thanked her dear readers, and after her note, at the bottom of the page, was her name: Kathryn Lasky

Before I turned the page to begin that fifteenth and, as I had just learned, final book in the series, I paused. I thought about how sad I already felt that now the story was going to be over, and I wouldn't get to see these beloved characters go on any new adventures after this book. For a moment, I wanted to ask the author for more, but then I thought, Who am I to argue, if Kathryn Lasky thinks the story is finished? 

A realization struck me then: Kathryn Lasky was the name I’d seen at the bottom of the cover of every one of those books. Kathryn Lasky was a name that belonged to a real person. She wrote the note and those stories that made me laugh and cry and gasp and sigh and clench my teeth and fists.

Up to that point, I hadn’t paid much attention to authors. I’d only come to recognize Kathryn Lasky because I'd seen her name so many times.

Kathryn Lasky wrote this story became a clear idea in my head, followed by She made up this world and all these characters I love. That was incredible, unbelievable, yet here was the evidence in my hands! A person made all this in their mind. I thought it would make me sad, this decisive abolishing of any faint glimmer of hope I might hold in the back of my mind that somehow this was all real. Stories being true had even been an issue from the very first book: A legend is a story…that becomes true in your heart. 

I still held the hope that Narnia was real, and so did my sister, so much so that we would sit in our white IKEA dress-up wardrobe and shut ourselves in. Then we would close our eyes and wish and finally push against the back, hoping it would fall away from our fingertips and open the way into another world. When that didn’t happen, and we eventually came out, I would still hope and even pray that as I pushed the doors open, they’d open not into our playroom, but Narnia. 

Slowly, I came to terms with Kathryn Lasky, a faceless name, yet a person like me, being the reason for the existence of these stories I was about to finish. Any drop of sadness was burned away by a thrill that sparked and then flamed up inside me. 

I can do this, I remember thinking. I can make stories.

Then I turned the page and read the book and finished the series. 

The idea that I could and would write a book full of a world and characters of my own imagining did not at once beget action. The seed lay dormant in my mind for several years, though at times it prompted me to inform people that someday I was going to write a book. 

I was a young teenager when I tried for the first time to write a book, which I decided would be for young adult readers. I typed five chapters, I think, before I stopped, printed it, and put it away. I disliked the way the story sounded when I read it over, but didn’t know how to change the way I was writing. Looking back, I know that I was writing in the style of modern middle-grade fiction because I had consumed a great deal of that. 

I think I was sixteen when I again tried to write a book. I decided it would be a fantasy, so I could make up whatever kind of world I wanted. I imagined a big island covered in jungle, with dinosaurs living on the ground, pegasuses flying through the air, and people living in the giant trees. 

There was no specific story I wanted to tell, so I began with an interaction between two cousins, and then stopped because I didn’t want to write the “wrong thing." Instead, I expanded the world, and started to develop a fantasy alphabet, replacing different sounds in the English language with symbols I made up and constantly practiced and reworked and practiced again. I imagined future scenes, and wrote more in my head than I did on paper. When I did put it down, it was in pencil on loose sheets of wide-ruled paper which I carefully kept in a blue folder and carried everywhere. Whenever I took it out, I would stare at the opening scene, and eventually put it away, because I still didn’t know what to do next.

I was supposed to be confirmed in the Catholic Church when I was seventeen, but circumstances out of my hands prevented it. I had to wait until the next year, when I was eighteen. To be eligible to be confirmed, I had to write a letter to the bishop of the Diocese, requesting Confirmation. 

                                                                                                                               April 5, 2021

Dear Bishop John,

I am writing to you to request the Sacrament of Confirmation. I am choosing to take the name of Joan of Arc as my Confirmation name Saint. I greatly admire her bravery, devotion to God, and virginity.

I have attended Religious Education classes at my church since first grade, and I am attending the Diocesen-required Confirmation classes that run on a two-year program. I have learned quite a bit about the Sacraments and the actions of the Holy Spirit that I was not previously aware of.

I was an Altar Server for seven years, and, during that time, I served funeral and wedding Masses, and I assisted Father at one Baptism, which was great. Babies are so wonderful! I have served as a reader at both parishes, and I have sung in the choir at my church. I have also volunteered at funeral luncheons, and I have helped to set up and take down the Christmas decorations at my church for the past two years.

Before the Covid restrictions, Father offered Exposition, Adoration, and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays and Fridays. My family and I tried to attend both days every week. 

On Fridays during Lent, my family and I have attended Stations of the Cross. On Friday, March 5, Father had Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament for the first time since the restrictions. He has offered the same every Friday since, and my family and I have adored for several hours each time. I did not realize how much Adoration helped me! It has been such a blessing to be able to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament again!

I strive to read at least 30 minutes of my Bible every day. On Tuesdays, my family and I attend Faith Class taught by Father. 

For several years, Father has invited the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, to come and host a summer program called Vacation Catholic School. I attended the classes for the years that I was eligible, and since I so enjoyed spending time with them, I came back to assist the Sisters once I outgrew the content.  

Father also invited the Totus Tuus program for the summers of 2018 and 2019. It was wonderful to spend time with such pious, reverent, believing young men and women.

He has also invited the Fathers of Mercy to give week-long parish missions, and I have gone to two of the missions with my family.

I also regularly attended a local prayer group before the Covid restrictions, and I volunteered at a local soup kitchen, Supper at His House, when it was our parishes’ turn to sponsor the dinner. 

I want to thank you for the many events that you arrange and/or sanction at the Cathedral, which I very much enjoy going to. Various members of my family and I have attended See the See, several Ordination Masses, three Chrism Masses, Life in the Spirit Seminar, Charismatic Renewal Retreat, and the Our Lady of Fatima Centennial. We also made a pilgrimage to go through the Doors of Mercy at the Cathedral, as well as to venerate the incorruptible heart of St. Jean Marie Vianney.        

I desire to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation because I want to be sealed with and receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and I want to 

‘use the faith I’ve found 

to reshape the world around, 

Through God’s sight and touch and sound in me’

(The Summons by John L. Bell)

throughout my life. I want to use the passion and gift that God has given me for reading and writing to spread beautiful truths about him in a way similar to that of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. 

May God bless you.

My Confirmation was a life-changing event for me. I firmly believe the initial commitment of writing and sending the letter was when things began to change, and that my Confirmation brought it to fuller fruition.

I had started watching videos about writing on YouTube, and found the Reedsy channel. One of the videos mentioned a short story contest, so I investigated, thought about it, and finally made an account on Friday, April 9, 2021, only four days after I sent my letter to the Bishop. I picked a prompt and wrote frantically, barely making the deadline the next Friday. It was the first story I ever finished. The next Sunday, I was confirmed.

I didn’t finish another story until October, and after that I tried to enter stories weekly but sometimes fell into slumps where I didn’t enter for months. 

I found out about NaNoWriMo, and in November 2023, I tried to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. I wrote 16,081 words, and was very pleased at the fact that I’d seriously started a novel which I was very motivated to complete. I have ideas for a dozen more.

And now here I am, adding another story to my Reedsy Prompts profile. All because of having found one book on a library shelf as a child, and falling in love with the stories of an author I grew to love.

May 25, 2024 00:18

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