Tribute in 2010- A Literary Look Back at the 1st Decade of the 21st Century

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des Expositions Official Site
Hi friends!

Wow, 2011, huh? Remember Y2K? At the time I was in the ninth grade, fourteen years old, in the mountains of North Carolina skiing with my best friend and her family. People were stocking up and clearing out the grocery stores with a frantic anxiety that I could not understand. It seems silly now, but the thought of all our computers shutting down meant an end to our way of life. Imagine having to sit at home with a book and a glass of homemade wine (because stores couldn't operate without computer inventory and, therefore, nothing would be grown, stored, shipped, or purchased, dontcha know?). What terror! I could certainly go for a time without my cell phone buzzing or the nightly news sending me into a downward spiral of depression.

But enough about that! Today's post is, as you can very well see, a tribute to the big moments of the past decade...more importantly, it's a tribute to the people, the books, the classes, the happenings that led me to write and read. All writers have a story about why they write; usually it's because they stumbled upon some fabulous author, or because they were told bedtime stories, or because they were lawyers and decided they hated lawyering (is that a word?).

Mine is fairly typical. My dad read Bible stories to my brother and sister and me growing up (I used to get bored and pick at my fingernails while imagining a scene where Mary and I would chill at the feet of Jesus while Martha acted like a frenetic housewife). I wrote my own "books" and "published" them by creating a cover of posterboard and Crayola markers. Then, when I was 10 years old, I stumbled upon the haunting face of a young girl, trapped on the cover of a diary in my elementary school's library. Her name was Anne Frank and she pretty much changed my entire outlook on writing. I saw how it saved her from the horrors that existed all around her, even within her own family, and I was deeply moved that she had, indeed, become the famous author that she had always dreamed of becoming. I started a journal when I was 11, and I still write in it. It slowly became my conversations with God and, even now, I can go back and read how He changed my heart as I was writing. I see the Bible as powerful not just because it is the living word of the Lord, but because it's tangible...because we can see it and read it over and over. Because we can go back to it in the moments when we think we've forgotten what to do...and that's what writing is to me. That's what stories are to me. They are holy...they are good...they are pure.

When I was 14 I turned in a fantasy story to my English teacher as a part of an extra credit assignment. She didn't believe, at first, that I had written it. That same year, my mother introduced me to Harry Potter. It had not yet become the worldwide phenomenon that it is now, and I actually refused at first because I thought the whole premise of the book sounded silly. I don't even recognize that girl anymore! Ten years, seven books, seven movies (can't WAIT for July!), tons of games and posters and magazines and dolls later...well...it would be an understatement to say that J.K. Rowling's incredible talent had an effect on my literary aspirations. I traveled everywhere with her and would lose myself for hours in the pages of her books. Lunch and dinner would go by and I'd hardly notice. It was the first time I realized what great storytelling was all about, and how hard it would be to become a great writer.

I still read constantly in high school, but boys and friends and thoughts of college steered me away from writing. I've always wanted to be a singer, a dancer, an artist, a model, a writer, a designer...anything that would allow me to create and perform. Singing was at the top of the list but, despite my aspirations, I could never quite get over my stage fright. I performed hundreds of times with the women's choir in college, and even had a few solos, but I always felt that shaky panic in my gut when I knew I was about to be alone under the spotlight. It's why I earned myself the nickname "Key Change Girl" after I sang the national anthem my freshman year at GSU...I freaked out and dropped to a lower key in the final verse so my voice wouldn't crack. Yeah. You read that right. So can we please stop talking about it and move on? I had (have?) a decent voice...but without a troupe to perform with, I couldn't hack it. Now I'm learning the electric guitar because I'll never be able to let music go...maybe one day...

I changed my major from Interior Design to Journalism in late 2003...which I hated. Journalism was too objective (well...that's a matter of opinion...no pun intended). I was bored with reporting facts and, to be honest, I was no good at it. I hated AP style and felt it was too restricting, but I stuck with it and looked forward to my music classes (I had a music minor by this point) for comfort. Then, lo and behold, during the fall of 2005, during my junior year of college, I was taking a stroll through the English department, debating another change of major, when I discovered a flier hanging on one of the many bulletin boards. Georgia Southern had brought on the Writing and Linguistics degree. There were four choices to pick from for your preferred concentration and, wouldn't ya know it, creative writing was at the top of the list. I almost died right then in the middle of the hallway. I walked straight over the my advisor's office and filled out the paperwork that afternoon.

I would say that the rest is history, but I can't forget my incredible professors. Sonya Huber. Peter Christopher. Laura Milner. Eric Nelson. These exquisite writers showed me a world I had never seen before. Writing was the hardest thing I had ever done. I was torn apart and put back together by my peers and my teachers, and I loved every second of it. It was in their classes- Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Rhetorical Writing- that I began to understand the process of making words become more than just characters on a page. If I had pages and pages to write, I could never describe what these people did for me.

I did some travel writing in Greece during the summer of 2006 for study abroad. I published a few articles and poems in the campus newspaper at GSU. I published two articles in Susie Magazine. I even submitted a poem to The New Yorker just to say that I had. It was rejected and I expected nothing more than that. I just wanted to say I had done it. And then I started writing a novel. I worked at a publishing company for nine months. And then I wrote another novel. And here I am.

Now wasn't that fun? =)

One quick thing and then I'll be on my way...

One of my resolutions for 2010 was to read 100 books. I only read fifty, but I wanted to share with you my top ten favorites before we jet off on our weekend adventures:

1. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Shack by William Young
3. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
4. Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
5. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
6. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (I'm a fan...)
7. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
8. True Colors by Kristin Hannah
9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
10. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

What were your favorites for 2010? I look forward to reaching my goal of 100 this new year!

Travel safe and be blessed!

XOXO,
Wendi

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