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Candice Tucker, In Her Own Words

Candice Tucker

During my school age years reading and writing was a huge part of my life. When I participated in a Read-a-Thon fundraiser in elementary school, there were neighbors who were dismayed that I had read a hundred books in just a month because this dramatically increased their amount due. I kept a journal starting in seventh grade, and this is where I would pour out my adolescent woes, from fights with friends to my countless broken hearts. I would decorate my journals with pictures of family and friends, and incorporate short stories and poems when I felt inspired.

I became close friends with a boy in my ninth grade class in high school. He seemed more mature than his peers, and we had some incredibly reflective conversations. Because of this closeness, I felt safe handing over one of my recent journals for him to read.

If only I could take back that day. Not only did he tell me there was something wrong with my musings, but he shared this feeling with other people in my class, too. It was humiliating and crushing. This made me apprehensive about sharing my work with others, especially if it was biographical.

After that experience, I only shared my written classwork and not my more personal writings. At the University of Michigan I grew as an academic writer, focusing on literature reviews as an undergraduate English major and Spanish minor. I even learned to write literary reviews and research papers in Spanish, which seemed so rudimentary.

After marrying my husband the week after I graduated with my Bachelorís degree, life took a quick turn. We moved to California for my first teaching job at a Bakersfield High School, and most of my ďfreeĒ time was actually spent working on lesson plans and grading papers at night. We settled back into our home state of Michigan a year later while I completed a childrenís literature Masterís degree and taught at a local middle school. Talk of children surfaced.

The next 15 years were full of birthdays, nursing, diapers, cooking, laundry, and more of the same. Thoughts of writing drifted far away as I raised my four children. I was working three jobs for most of those years. I was teaching writing and literature online for one college and on ground for two other schools while trying to maintain my sanity. In the few minutes I could find daily to relax, I soaked up realistic adolescent and adult fiction. My husband had to restrain me from purchasing too many kidsí books (especially my favorite, postmodern picture books), but my four kids benefited greatly from this addiction. Their love of literature and writing is my biggest legacy.

After falling in love with Hosseinís Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I turned to memoirs and biographies. I became impassioned about womenís unfair treatment and rights after reading Jean Sasson and Carmen Bin Ladenís biographical works about women in Saudi Arabia. My fixation with people experiencing prison-like conditions led to my later interest in educating inmates.

I also experienced a massive overhaul of my marriage in the last few years, which has led to a craving to start writing again to work through some of my experiences. Fortunately this repaired relationship has led to many blessings, but there has been more than my fair share of tears and heartache. Writing really does have the power to heal and transform us. I am so thankful for this expression of my soul.

Now that my youngest is turning seven and my oldest is a freshman in college, I feel like I have a little more time for myself. I look forward to many more years of writing memoirs and literary reviews, and remembering why I fell in love with literature so many years ago.