Becoming a Writer by Laurie Calkhoven

I was fascinated by books and stories from a very young age. I remember my mother giving my two sisters and I a choice between listening to her read a story and watching a television program. I voted for the story, and I was outvoted.  I also remember my older sister getting a set of Dr. Seuss books when she was learning to read and being desperately jealous that I couldn’t read them myself.  And of course there was the pride and excitement that came with my first library card.

I was a reader. That was established early on. I had a secret wish to be a writer, but I didn’t really believe that it was possible.  And then a teacher turned that around for me with a fifth grade nonfiction writing assignment. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it was definitely fiction.  My teacher, Mrs. Azzolini, pulled me aside and very gently explained the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Then she told me that I was a good writer. Being a writer when I grew up was something I should think about.

Hearing someone, a teacher no less, say my secret wish out loud and tell me that it was possible was a magical moment. I didn’t wait to grow up—I went home and started writing a novel.  And I’ve never really stopped.


  1. I had a different sort of epiphany in 5th grade when my teacher told my mother I was smart enough to attend college...something that had not happened in our family before that. Isn't it wonderful how only one person can change to course of our personal history?

  2. What a great teacher! Secret wishes said out loud...I love the sound of that. Do you remember the novel you wrote after that?

  3. I love this, too. And interesting that you ended up being drawn to historical fiction - which involves both storytelling skill AND the fun that comes from the research called for by nonfiction. Lines blurred again! Yay for teachers who have no idea how much of a wonderful difference they can make.

  4. Great post, Laurie! I can just hear that teacher and feel that magical moment.


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