By Laurean Brooks (Photo by Martin Winkler)
I had wanted to become a published writer since my teacher announced to our 5th grade class, “One day, Laurie will become an author.”
I married too young, and paying bills got in the way. When I graduated high school, I got a job in the textile industry. I hated the daily push and grind of trying to make production. I developed many lasting friendships with co-workers. It was the work I hated. I felt as if my brain was becoming petrified by doing the same thing over and over. I added it up once, and estimated that I’d attached over 3 million back pockets to 1.5 million pairs of Chic jeans, during the years I worked at that plant.
By the time NAFTA closed our plant, I had a job as a quality control technician (inspecting garments.) NAFTA gave us the option to go to college. I took it, drove 100 miles per day-round trip-to WKTC in Paducah, Kentucky. The entrance test showed I would do well in the creative arena. But, as the lady in the office said, “I’m sorry, but we offer no creative classes here.”
I decided to take Legal Assistant classes, because it seemed more interesting than anything else offered. I had an instructor who piled on homework. I was up until 2. a.m some nights completing it. Before I entered college, I did not know one end of a computer from the other. The first 6 weeks were grueling as I attempted to believe what one instructor said.”Your computer is your best friend.” It was hard to swallow since I crashed mine at least once in every class. I struggled to keep up with 19 and 20 year olds, who made everything look so simple. It took me longer to do my work, but I strove to make the finished product error-free.
By taking a heavy load of summer classes, I graduated in 16 months, and on the honor roll. Can you believe it? But, there were few job openings for Legal Assistants. I worked for four attorneys in the first two years. Each law office downsized, and I was the first to go.
After those attempts, I decided to try for my childhood dream of writing. What did I have to lose? Most of my classes had required Microsoft Word. I submitted an essay to our local Hometown magazine. It was accepted. And they paid me $25. I was on cloud nine. I immediately wrote more essays, some they published. But my dream was to write a book. Not any book, but my mother’s story–her life during the Great Depression. She’d repeated it so often that it had become part of me.
That book, Journey To Forgiveness, was published in January 2009, and I’ve never looked back. If you come out with anything from this post, the important thing I want to convey is, “Never give up on your dream.” There will be obstacles. Kick them out of the way and forge ahead. Writing is an emotionally satisfying career well worth fighting for.
Sometimes, I feel like I failed myself and others because I earned the diploma, but didn’t pursue the career of a legal office assistant. But honestly, my heart was never in it. And maybe—just maybe—it was in God’s plan that I take college courses to learn computer programs and skills I would need to become a writer.
Connect with the author: Laurean Brooks