Hello!!! I hope you are remaining awesome despite all that is threatening that awesomeness. Our Stories series has not ended. Pardon me for not posting a story on Friday. Because of my failure to post on Friday, I have decided to give you a powerful story that is broken down into two this week.
Jeannelle is one of those precious souls whose spoken word and writing is so deep that it either gets you thinking or it makes you take out your writing pad to write. I am very grateful that she has decided to share her story with us today. This is a story that has personally blessed me beyond words. Just like the other beautiful stories that have been shared here, this is one that I am sure will also touch you.
Kindly read and please share. Do come back here tomorrow to finish reading Jeannelle Brew’s story. Thank you and have a great week ahead.
I first started reading before Reception class and I think that’s one of my mum’s proudest accomplishments. She would read to me literally all the time before bedtime. I remember I used to be scared of sleeping alone in my room, so she’d get into bed with me and read a story from the collection of bedtime stories we had. I think the main reason why she did this was so I could fall asleep to something positive and forget about the negative aspect of sleeping alone. However, I never fell asleep! Sometimes she’d read the same story over and I would just imagine myself as the characters or get her to explain what certain terms meant. I was captivated by the power of words. I was in awe of how I could feel the emotions and expressions of one particular character in just a single sentence. As she read, I really wasn’t trying to sleep but rather I closed my eyes so I could imagine what she was saying. When she would have read about two stories, answered all of my questions, we would pray and she’d leave and sometimes she’d stay. I would talk about the stories the next morning and pick out what I wanted her to read to me before bed around breakfast time.
I can’t remember when I started reading by myself but I remember reading aloud to my mum before bed, so she could experience what I did. I began reading books that were more mature than I was like at 4, reading bigger wordier books because I wanted to know what the older kids read and how the words differed. I used to have to hide my books under the covers as my mum would give me half an hour to read before she turned the lights out. I remember thinking ‘she doesn’t understand; I need to finish this book. I’m not even going to fall asleep anyway when she turns off the light so I might as well keep reading.’ So she would come in, turn off my lights and I’d wait for her footsteps to sound distant, before switching on my lamp to resume reading my latest read. I would fall asleep mid page, wake up and force myself to read, claiming I wasn’t tired and just needed a little break. I wasn’t as sly as I thought I was because I never switched off my lamp but would wake up to the light of natural sunlight, with the ‘hidden book’ placed on my table.
My granddad played a major part in my love for literature also, he would buy me books from WH Smith during the week, he would read them all and write up questions on them, present the books to me on a Friday and on Sunday evenings I would have to answer the questions and discuss with him my thoughts on the stories. He would tell me how he found the stories, the language and then ask me to share my ideas on how I would have written certain parts. He would do the same with newspapers like The Daily Mail, Metro, Evening Standard, Mail on Sunday, The Guardian and The Independent. This really broadened my knowledge on current affairs, literature and language. If it wasn’t for God giving me such a grandfather who wanted to teach me about literature as well as to learn things for himself, I really don’t think I’d be studying English at university. So for that I’m eternally grateful, I have to make something of myself to honor him. He sacrificed so much time to teaching me how to spell and use grammar correctly, buying all the books off of my extremely long list, reading them all and encouraging me to read texts other than novels. When other grandparents would be relaxing or doing other things centering around their leisure, mine would help structure my dream. The poor man would read through books that he necessarily wouldn’t have read, just to support me.
I started writing poems and short stories whilst waiting for my grandma to cook dinner, eat, then write as my grandparents watched the news, bathe, write some more then go to bed. I just loved using the things that I had read and incorporating them in my own pieces. At that time, I didn’t really think much of what I was doing, it was just fun for me. Like how other kids in primary had after school clubs, I had my own – Jeannelle’s Writing Club. I would read them to my grandparents, my mum, cousins just anyone who would listen. My mum was like my publisher, she would read them over before I performed my pieces and she would send copies to family friends. I used to think writing was something everyone was passionate about until I tried to get my cousin to join me in Jeannelle’s Writing Club and he would just draw or look bored whilst I scribbled away.
I remember replying to the question, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ proudly with ‘a journalist’ and being met with ‘oh’s and ‘but why?’ ‘I don’t think that’s a suitable career path, take time to reconsider.’ The thing is, it took me the longest time to make that decision, I wanted to be a lawyer initially because I was always told that I was good at arguing and good with quick smart responses. But it wasn’t my passion and I could use those skills in my writing. But no one that I told seemed okay or supportive with my decision. Even my family and that was extremely surprising to me. They pushed me and shaped me towards my passion for writing and literature, so why were they not in support of this career choice? Everyone I told seemed shocked and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. People say chase your passions and do what you love but when you decide to, it suddenly becomes impractical or unwise. I cannot see myself doing anything other than writing, travelling and interviewing in my future, anything else would not be me and wouldn’t stimulate my mind or talents.1