I've had a love affair with words for as long as I can remember. At the princessy private school I attended, we were required to take study skills as its own subject area for 5 years. Everyone moaned and groaned about it (though I feel certain that as they flew through college they changed their tunes about its importance), but not I! Outlines... notecards... highlighting... yummy.... almost as good as the actual creation of a piece of text.
Senior year of high school meant a semester of creative writing. We journaled, and from those journal entries created amazing works that we shared with one another and learned the art of constructive literary feedback. We had to write one short story a week, though my story count was far more than the teacher's requirement. I couldn't seem to stop writing, and I still have those stories in some buried treasure box in the basement. Many snippets from those stories are permanently etched in my mind. It was a rough year for me personally, and I realized that writing was only rather therapeutic and that the best literature is written from a place of knowledge. It's so simple, really: you write best about that with which you are most familiar.
In my freshman year of college I had the coolest ever writing professor. Her name was Anne... she was funky and fun and understood the importance of authentic tasks and meaningful subject matter. She pulled me aside one day and said "you have a gift and it begins with just one word, just one emotion". I'd been told by many teachers along the way that my writing was "good". I could write one helluva 3.5 essay, but this was the first time anyone ever told me that she'd connected to my writing on a deeper level, and I literally felt drunk with power, because words, I knew, were powerful things. I later had her mother as a professor for a course on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. I didn't realize it was her mother until after I got back my first paper, and at the top was written, "Anne was right... you write like an angel."
The realization that we are good at something is important, so too, is positive and specific feedback along the way from people for whom we have respect. I feel blessed that my gift touches hearts and has the ability to pull forth emotion, even from people who aren't so very emotional. I'm glad to have a creative outlet, for my reality is that someday, my body might decide it's had enough, but, hopefully, my mind will remain in tact and my words will continue to flow.