I have a checkered past when it comes to writing. Back in the fourth-grade, myself and a few other students were pulled out of our regular class to join a small writing cohort. I remember walking the long, haunting path to the portable classrooms where we met weekly. We would sit around a round table in a darkening room and write poetry and short stories. I loved this short respite from the doldrums of a normal day. One of my measly poems was even published in a national collection of student work. I rested on the laurels of that published poem for many, many years.
After my freshman year of college, I transferred to a small liberal arts school. During my first semester at this new school, I took a literature class where we read the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, and other ancient texts. High upon my head set the withered branches from my childhood, and I proudly turned in my first paper on the Iliad as I adjusted its brittle crown. When I received the graded essay back, a large F covered the bulk of the first page (at least it seemed like it did to me). Written in small, almost illegible print at the top were the following, laurel destorying words:
“To continue at this school, you are required to attend a rudimentary writing class.”
I was shocked. My head felt naked and cool as the Lower School laurels fell to the wayside in pieces. The next week, I walked the long, haunting path to the oldest building on campus and into the smallest classroom. Among the ten of us required to be in this class, I was one of five who actually spoke English as their first language. The other five students moved to the US just so they could attend this university. Embarrassing…
From that point on, though, I have had a thirst to write — to examine texts, culture, and the life I live. I realized it was my way to make sense of my disparate experiences and my life in Christ.
While I have not been published in any meaningful publication since the age of ten, I have been able to use personal platforms such as this to explore what it means to live this beautiful and broken life God has given me. I only hope I can channel a teeny bit of my ten year old self, so you can understand a few of my disjointed thoughts.
— Justin McGee