Unshelving My Purpose After Years of Neglect


When I was a high school freshman, I approached my English teacher, Mrs. Richard. My appetite for words urged me to ask her where I could buy one of the books we used in class—The American Heritage Dictionary. She looked up from the papers she was grading, red pen in hand and a sparkle in her eye. Through her smile, she said she’d look into it and continued to edit. A few days later, she slipped me a brand new copy and wouldn’t accept my money. She said it was an honor to give a book to someone who was hungry to learn.

The dictionary spine lay gaping on my bedside stand. Every day, I devoured a new word and nourished my growing vocabulary.

It wasn’t long before some classmates teased me. “Use normal words,” they said. “Who are you tying to impress?”

Their criticism threatened my passion for language; I considered defending my love for language by continuing to spout new-to-me multisyllabic speech, but I wanted to belong more than I wanted to increase my vocabulary. So I stuck the red dictionary between my ceramic dice bookends, where dust gathered on its top edge.

Several years later, I sat in my kitchen’s tender pre-dawn hours while my first husband and two toddlers slept. This was my time to do what I enjoyed—learn about writing from a borrowed copy of The Artist’s Way. I stole pockets of time, every chance I could. It was my secret.


Continue reading over at Diane W Bailey, The Perfectly Imperfect Life!


  • Ellen
    7 years ago

    You are a strong woman, my friend. I’m so proud of you!

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      7 years ago

      Thanks Friend! I think we’re all stronger than we think we are.

  • Pamela
    7 years ago

    I just found your blog today – via Diane Bailey’s wonderful blog – and I identified with every word you said and all the emotions you laid bare. You responded to someone’s comment that you hoped perhaps someone might read your post and realize that it is never too late to follow a dream… precisely the words and affirmation I need at this time in my life! I’ll be 70 soon…still working full time and contemplating retirement … have written hundreds of poems, mentally drafted 3 children’s series, a few songs (words and music)… yet I hesitate to “do anything with them” because it seems it’s already all been said. But God is telling me I have a voice, and perhaps my words may also help just one person in this crazy world. So I’m ready… but how/where do I start?…

    • Sharon A Gibbs
      7 years ago

      Congratulations on keeping your dream alive! I’ll email you so we can start a conversation privately.

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