Like many writers, I attribute my writing roots to a teacher who cared and gave me encouragement. Mr. Hardy was my fifth grade teacher at Dawson-Vanderbilt Elementary School. In his class, I wrote a short story about an ugly pathetic pine tree that lived on a Christmas tree lot and couldn’t find a home for the holiday. I guess Mr. Hardy liked it because mine was the only story he read out loud to the class.
I was hooked on writing from that point on. Sadly, I didn’t realize at the time that being a writer could be a valid vocation. I grew up to be something else for twenty-five years, but I continued to journal and write poetry. Years later, when I decided to pursue a career in writing after all, I re-wrote The Homeless Christmas Tree and sold it to a children’s fiction magazine. I thank Mr. Hardy for giving me the affirmation and confidence required to even consider becoming a writer. And it reminds me that we, as writers, teachers, parents, mentors, or any caring adults, should never underestimate the power we have to encourage young people and spur them on to do amazing things.