There’s a special end-of-summer thrill when the school supplies hit the shelves. The pristine packs of perfectly sharpened colored pencils. The siren song of shiny new folders. The seductive swirl of black-and-white marble composition notebooks. That excitement still lingers for me, even though I no longer buy such supplies or know how to use a protractor.
A new school year always carried the whiff of possibility. A blank page both literally in those notebooks and figuratively in the opportunities to learn, grow, and achieve. And I still get that sense of anticipation from a blank page, only now it comes when I open a document to start a new story.
I start every short story with high hopes, just as I used to start all those school years. I think I know what’s going to happen but I’m open to twists and turns and occasional disappointments. Sometimes the plot doesn’t come together or the characters don’t come to life, just like sometimes the calculus tried to kill me or I got picked last in gym class. (Okay, I always got picked last.) Sometimes, a story takes a new and unexpected path, just like when I switched foreign languages and ended up crushing it at the Junior Classical League convention. Sometimes now the writing grade I get is an acceptance to a publication and sometimes it’s a rejection.
But I’m always learning—how to be a better writer, new places to submit my work, ways to entertain and grow my readership. I’ve never lost that back-to-school thrill, and as long as I keep writing I never will.