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  • nadinerake

How it all started...

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

As an immigrant and ESL student, it took me a very short time to speak English and understand my teachers and classmates. However, the writing, and namely reading comprehension, did take quite a bit longer. By the time I was in grade 4, something marvelous happened...

Enter my most favourite teacher of all time. We all have that one teacher who made a difference either in our day, or our lives. That one teacher that was everything you needed at that age; who was that for you? What made them special? What made them a "good teacher"? For me, it was Mr. B. He was such an encouraging, uplifting, and motivating teacher. He celebrated my learning, my progress, and marveled at how far I had come from only being able to say "apple juice" two years earlier.

I found a love for writing, and I had written a story, as I always did, and Mr. B said to me: This could be published. It was then that I decided two things: I wanted to be a teacher, and I would one day write a children's book.

Life, of course, takes you down many different paths, some dark alleys, and other winding roads that you're not sure where they will end. But eventually, it all becomes clear. I had that moment of clarity in 2009 and started the journey of obtaining my teaching degree.

Writing a children's book was not at all on my radar. Sometimes I'd journal, scribble down ideas, type something out, and often I'd imagine and create stories either in my head, or for others. And then I had my daughter. At some point I just decided to sit down and actually write out a story that was in my head. She was often with me when I wrote it, either on my lap, on her playmat, or trying to hammer the keys on my laptop. Between that, naps, bedtime struggles, nursing, playing, changing, and everything else baby-related, I managed to write a book: Cornelius the Dragon.

I wanted to show my child, or possible children, that you should never drop your dreams; they are dreams for a reason, they mean something. And I did it. I wrote a children's book from start to finish.

And there it sat. A finished book, a work I was immensely proud of, and nowhere for it to go! I randomly watched a Lady Gaga interview and she was talking about working hard and making your dreams come true and never stopping. That stirred something up in me, so I began navigating the rabbit-hole of publishing information. I managed to send Cornelius to several publishers, but only rejections returned to me.

Eventually I found a path that worked for me, and one year later... I held a physical copy of my book in my hands. I was in disbelief. The nine year old in me was jumping up and down, clapping, and getting to work on her next story.

My biggest lesson here... aside from the "it's never too late to make your dreams come true", is to pay attention to your inner child because they know what's up. Go back to them, talk to them; their (your) needs still matter, their dreams are everything, and perhaps at some point they accidentally dropped their dream. Help them find it and pick it up. Hold it in your hands, for it is a precious thing. And find a way to honour yourself - it is possible and it feels so good.

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