It’s a memory that stands out VERY clearly in my mind. I had only just started to take any kind of serious interest in my Swedish heritage when my seventh grade teacher announced our next writing assignment: write your own folk tale that explains the origin of something in our world.
We must have been learning about cultures and their histories in social studies because I remember our next assignment was paper mache masks.
But anyways… I took that assignment and ran with it. I sat down at the computer and started googling Swedish mythology. From there, I found Thor and his belt. And then I found Inge. And somewhere I along the way I stumbled across behindthename.com for the first time which led me to my character’s name, Ingalill, which means, “little Inge.”
I wrote a story about the stars. Ingalill comes down to earth to defend her people under the blessing on Thor, who gives her his belt. She rallies them to fight alongside her with the promise that for every fallen man, a light will appear in the sky. And even as Ingalill herself falls, the North Star appears in her place.
I felt so proud of that story. For a seventh grader, the plot was quite the feat of words (I won’t comment on spelling and grammar). But when I handed the paper in, my teacher pulled me aside after reading it and in a very serious manner, asked me if I had copied the story from someplace else.
I remember feeling quite shocked. I was a self-professed goody-two-shoes. No, of course not… I just…. I just put it together.
“Well,” my teacher paused, “it’s a very good story…”
I went back to my chair, returned to my work and dismissed the event from my thoughts.
It was another year before I started scribbling short stories in the back pages of my notebooks.
But as I reflect back on the first few occasions where I attempted to write something… my poor seventh grade teacher was the first to pay me a compliment… to encourage me in that direction. I guess it was a backhanded compliment of sorts, but it stuck.
That was, gosh, almost ten years ago now?
Still, the things that push you towards your goals often arise from the strangest of circumstances.