My writing origins are murky at best. As an early elementary-schooler, I remember writing things like “Happy Easter, [heartsign] Loria” with my name going off the edges of the Bunny-shaped construction paper gift meant for Mom and Dad. As is many times the case, my writing history begins with my reading history, which begins in second grade. I was a slow reader, mainly because I couldn’t hear. They make you read aloud in second grade, you know. Scarring from years of ear infections and tubes, I had a real problem connecting the words that I heard in stories (which were muddy to begin with) with the words I tried to read in class. And they interrupt you EVERY time you mispronounce a word. I never comprehended what I was reading. Is there essay writing in 2nd grade? If there was, I was probably in the low writing group as well. They probably didn’t bother with the three of us in that group since we were hopeless anyway.

The good news is that something clicked in me in third grade. I became a good reader—promoted from the low group to the middle group and, finally, to the high group—and it occurred to me that I could create a world of my own. By fourth grade, I had won fame and glory with my honorable mention of the essay, “What Reading Means to Me,” in a county-wide contest. I received 20 bucks and that was no joke in the mid-80’s. A writer’s work is never done, however. I decided to embark on a serious project that would require all the skill I had developed in the past two years: the writing of a suspense series called “Mystery of the Masons.” I don’t remember much about the series except it involved a protagonist named Lori, haunted houses, and copious amounts of plagiarism. It remains a shining achievement, though the actual pages of the novel did not survive my mother.

From fourth grade to my first year in college, I wrote stuff. It was important stuff at the time. Poetry, English essays, letters to Oprah. During my second year of college, I transferred to Arkansas State University to become a journalist. I loved the form of the writing and still do but hated the material I had to work with. I knew I couldn’t be a reporter when I was forced to write an article about food sales for Super Bowl Sunday. That article did make it into the school newspaper, which was a feat for a first-year journalism student. Then there was the time a vice chancellor came to see me after class about a story I wrote, which was true but unflattering. I didn’t need the stress. So I decided to become a psychology major and dabble in creative writing. I wrote heartfelt poems about hard-core depression, which I only now understand. I wrote poems about vampires and George Michael. I managed to get published in the school literary magazine, the Foliate Oak.

After receiving my B.S. in Psychology, I went to graduate school for School Psychology and for the next two years, I perfected the art of research writing. Research papers gave me an excuse to get in touch with my third-person self and use some of those journalism techniques. During this period of time, I learned a lot about writing organization and pace.

Since 2003, I’ve been writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for publication. I embarked on this journey to obtain a Master’s in Professional and Technical Writing for the sole purpose my own pleasure. My classes have pushed me to write differently than I have in the past. My essays in Nature Writing weren’t particularly good but I learned a lot about avoiding clichés and muddy water. One professor I had, Dr. H., said she liked my writing but she had no idea how she would teach anyone to write like me. I think that might have been a compliment. I wrote an essay called “Civil War” in Charles Anderson’s Healing Narrative class at UALR circa the mid-2000s. His class encouraged my inner decay to leap forward into the bright lights of criticism (no one actually criticized, by the way). I finally wrote the depression story of my life and it was dreary enough for Dr. Anderson to publish it in an academic journal he edits, Literature & Medicine. One of the reviewers of this essay insisted Dr. Anderson not publish it because it didn’t have a happy ending. I smile with pride when I think of that. I don’t write happy. I write forlorn and melodramatic.

Which leads in nicely to my current crowning achievement, the publication of my first book of poetry called sob. Sob’s content is literally about 3 years of ugly wailing in my life and chronicles my breakups, makeups, grief, death, and depression along with an ode to my favorite Greek heroine, Antigone, and a commentary about Pop-eye’s dating life. And this is my epiphany: On August 6th, I had a book launch shindig in which I read from the book. My past haunted me—I bombed at the reading. Still, the writing stands for itself and my epitaph when I die will say, “Buy my book on Amazon.” How’s that for a happy ending?