Word Love; My Writing Journey
I have always loved words. Before I was able to read, I copied the words out of the books we had. The letters forming words strung in a sentence captivated my imagination. I desperately wanted the story. Growing up, books became my escape, allowing me to lose myself in the characters, plots, and settings.
After my high school graduation in 1983, I got married to my high school sweetheart and we moved from Florida to Clarksville, TN. He was in the Army and that is where we were stationed and where we began our lives together. Being away from family and on our own, we learned to rely on ourselves and make our own decisions. It was liberating for me. However, there were times I found myself sitting on the green shag carpet of our small trailer, crying with frustration, but together we pressed on. Those years taught me who I was and how strong I could be.
I worked at a local sub shop (that is still there) called Foxx’s Sub Shop. I loved working there and found some great friends. After about a year, I looked into college. I knew I wanted to go, it was important to me. I enrolled at Austin Peay State University where I was going to study journalism. I loved being on campus, attending class and studying in the library. In those days we were allowed to smoke in the classrooms and the library. There were small copper colored ashtrays on every desk. I remember the teachers smoking while lecturing and the smell of stale cigarette smoke.
My husband and I wanted a family, so before I finished my first year at college, I found myself pregnant. I was so delighted! I did not have many people in my life available to help me with decisions, so I withdrew from school with the thought that I couldn’t do both.
It wasn’t until my second child was about a year old that I began to think about college again. We were back at home, John was done with the Army and we were both working at a boat manufacturing plant. He worked days, I worked evenings. I was exhausted but enjoying being a mother. The kids were my top priority and I had to work to help keep them fed and clothed. Then one day the plant eliminated the evening shift and I found day care getting my entire paycheck. That was the day I went to the local community college.
Nursing had always seemed interesting to me, and the program seemed easy enough so I began taking my prerequisites. I left the boat business and got a paper route. Those were the toughest three years of my life (until the kids became teenagers). My day began at 2 am to get the papers. I learned to roll them as I drove to save time, and once I delivered them I ran home to get ready for school and get the kids ready for daycare.
My house was hardly ever clean or my laundry done during those years. But I realized that something had to give. The kids were toddlers and demanded my attention, often making it difficult to study. Naps on Sundays were a must, and we all crashed into bed after church.
Graduating from nursing school was one of my proudest days, followed by getting that long awaited letter in the mail saying I could finally use RN at the end of my signature. I worked nights on a med surg floor for the first two years. I had the time of my life. I met some of the most fantastic women I have ever met - they were great nurses too.
My nursing supervisor was very supportive and when I decided to go for my bachelors, she backed me 100%. So there I was, back in school. The hospital that I worked at was offering a satellite program for RN to BSN, and I couldn’t pass it up. It was a personal goal of mine. I was on day shift now, and my classes were in the evening. There were a lot of papers to write and while everyone else complained, I actually enjoyed writing them.
Skipping forward in time, I now work in a GI/OPS department and have found my niche. I work in a great department with co-workers that became my family. I have another beautiful daughter who is about ten. I got the itch to go back to school, and my youngest was old enough that I felt she could handle me being gone occasionally for school. Once I made the decision to go back to school, I couldn’t land on a major. For an entire year, I thought about it and prayed about it. I weighed my options with becoming a nurse practitioner, education, or management. Neither made my heart beat faster.
Driving to work one day, the idea hit me with such intensity I felt dizzy. What took it so long I have no idea. But there it was! Writing! My first love had circled back around and now I could use my nursing knowledge along with my life experience to do the one thing that I longed to do so badly. After taking one class at a large university, I found Eckerd College who offered a bachelor's in creative writing. So began my trek twice a week to learn how to write correctly and professionally so I could be taken seriously.
At Eckerd College, I was blessed with so many great and passionate professors who realized how much I wanted to do well and invested in me the time and expertise to mold me into a better writer. During that time I realized how much I loved poetry. I went into my poetry class with trepidation but soon found it was my passion.
When the time came for me to sit and defend my thesis in creative nonfiction felt surreal. I had worked hard to be sitting there, and now my dream was about to be fulfilled. Walking out of there on that sunny, breezy day, my heart rejoiced.
My family and I had the chance to move from Florida to Tennessee about two and a half years ago. We had been wanting to move for a very long time, so this was a dream come true. Soon after, I saw that allnurses.com was looking for writers and I immediately applied. I could barely contain my excitement while having my over the phone interview, and soon I was writing articles.
I have some personal projects that I am working on, but life often slows that process down. I also do contributory work for SGNA, helping to update, edit and contribute to the Study Book for Certification, and now I am working on the review manual. I have days when I wish that I could spend my days writing. I crave to write, as I craved as a child to learn to read those words on the page. I have many great stories to tell, some of them true. One day I will see my dream come to fruition and publish a book (being honest, I want to write many books!). In the meantime, I relish writing nursing articles and I hope you enjoy reading them. Lately, I have thought about getting my master’s in creative writing . . .
Brenda F. Johnson has '23+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gastrointestinal Nursing'. From 'Ooltewah, Tn'; Joined Oct '14; Posts: 159; Likes: 499.Mar 8Great story, Brenda, thanks for sharing! I am also interested in a Nurse authorship/writing career that better be in the near future...
I would be greatly honoured to have a chat with you, if you don't mind! Can I contact you privately? Would be great to have a like-minded person I can throw my ideas at and see if they make any sense, lol. I am at that stage where I feel like a "flight of ideas" and wonder where to begin from! Looking forward to "hearing" from you soon!Last edit by RN90 on Mar 8 : Reason: Mistakenly used my real name, lol!Mar 9Writing multiple books is on my bucket list, too! Finding the time to do regular, consistent, quality work on my writing projects is the current challenge. My mantra is NEVER GIVE UP.