Writing has been a passion of mine as far back as I can remember. In my early teens, I wrote stories in notebooks and when I finished one, I went on to the next one. I would fill up a spiral notebook with one story. As I recall, they were mostly about college life. I was in junior high and high school at the time. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading. The fact that a person could write something down, and it could be written in a book for others to read and enjoy, and these books were housed in a place called a library really fascinated me.
As I grew, I realized that reading and writing were not the only two things in this world. I discovered volleyball and loved the game. But I was only good at serving. When I was in college, everyone wanted me on their team because my serve always helped the team score many points. I went from volleyball to playing the piano. Shocking, isn’t it? But according to my music teacher, I had the makings of becoming a concert pianist. I don’t remember why I didn’t follow up on that. I guess I became too busy with college work.
After I graduated from undergraduate school, I began to really enjoy the game of tennis. I was really good at it, but with tennis, you always had to have a partner. I could never find one that would last beyond a summer. I wasn’t interested in joining the big tennis organization because I really didn’t want to compete, besides I wasn’t good at serving.
I became a speech therapist and later moved on to teaching after earning a Master’s degree. I taught students who were fourth and fifth grade learning disabled students. The reading books that were required for them were the same for the general education population, but during that time, there was a tendency of some teachers to implement a different curriculum for children who were learning disabled. These strategies were designed to improve the students’ learning ability so that they could learn to read, write and do all the things the general education students were doing. The problem was that the program was year long, and year after year, the students got farther and farther behind. So, I ditched all that and taught them reading, and all the other things that the general education students were learning. When my classes began their reading program, they hardly knew any words. I used to tell them stories that I would make up on the spot that was designed to help them with vocabulary, comprehension, and the other concepts they needed to learn to read. They asked me if my stories were written down. I went home and wrote some stories for them and those stories we used in place of the books. That was when I began to look at writing as not just something to write and tuck away. The students were enjoying the stories (I have to add that they were really lacking and if I were to have them critiqued, I would need to revise them all) and I could see that I needed to take writing seriously.
In my physical career, I changed to bicycling. I didn’t have to have a partner to bike; I didn’t have to serve. I could decide to ride when ready, go where I want and stay as long as I liked. And I did and still do.
I continued writing stories for my students and began writing longer stories as I moved along in my professional career. There were many stops and starts, but when I finished a story, I joined groups to have them critiqued. Now, I want to have them published.
It’s tough, but I really love bicycling. I still read as often as I can, and am always writing, and bike when I need a nice long break. When I bike, I get a chance to reflect. I develop my stories and characters and decide what I don’t want and what I should include in my stories.
I also pray while I’m out riding in natural surroundings. From my church, I have learned so much about the power of prayer and I take the opportunity to pray for people and for things.
Judy Kelly is an award-winning author. Her latest novel, Blessings and Curses, was in the Top Ten Most Popular Novels at the Frankfurt, Sharjah, and Guadalajara International Book Fairs, 2018. Her first novel, That Ever Died So Young, was a finalist in the Somerset Literary and Contemporary Fiction Award for 2014. She has given presentations on dialogue at conferences, libraries and meetings. She is a member of Maryland Writers’ Association, Montgomery County chapter that she organized. She is also a member of Eastern Shore Writers, and Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). She teaches fiction writing at Montgomery College and at Frederick Community College in the Life Long Learning Institute. She is a reader for a prestigious awards program, and a beta reader. She is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College where she has taught speech, college reading and English. She enjoys walking, live theater, movies and is active in her church. Her favorite pastimes are reading and writing.