by Jennifer Ward
I have some exciting news to share! About a month ago, I received the message that my essay, “The Courage to Rekindle a Dream,” would be published in The Penman Review. And, sure enough, on December 23rd, it was on their front page! I cannot begin to describe how I feel right now because I am still in shock (in a good way, of course!)—being published two days before Christmas makes it even better!
I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to write about how I overcame college and career-changing obstacles, but I never got around to it. Until last summer when I couldn’t do anything but write.
After being diagnosed with COVID and another common virus, I began writing this essay. Having both illnesses at the same time hit me very hard. Last June, I was in the hospital and missed nearly three weeks of work. Since then, I’ve spent the second half of 2022 recovering from lung and heart inflammation, among other complications. I spent months in bed, barely able to walk to my mailbox or cook for myself. What else is a bedridden writer to do? Write, of course.
This essay is not only a story of my early adult life struggles but also a piece of work I poured my heart into while in bed, very sick. And it happens to be my first officially published piece of writing too! This is a huge accomplishment, but it also means everything to me to share my life with the world. It’s been a long journey to get to where I am today. In my twenties and early thirties, I had dreams of teaching and writing, and now, here I am. Dreams, stories, and publication, in that order!
Last Friday, one of my students gave me a Christmas card. Inside the card, she wrote: “Dear Ms. Ward, I hope your holidays are amazing and healthy! I do hope to continue to thrive in your class. I really believe you can fulfill your dream to be a writer!” I haven’t told my student yet, but I was published the same day she gave me that card. It is so incredibly important for others to support us, and I’m glad she already knows that. And that’s what my essay is all about—dreams, determination, and believing the impossible is possible. So, with all that said, have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2023!
To read the entire essay, click here.
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