Personal stories of growth at Eckerd College

An "Eckerd Story"
Joanna Petsalis

"I thought..."

"It is your voice, your story" are the words I heard every week I attended the Writer's Circle class at Eckerd College. In January, 2007, I was an inexperienced writer, I thought, until I found out I wrote all my life.

My career for twenty years had been in banking and finance. I dealt with business and numbers.  I was not that good in English and could never be. English was a Second Language and another obstacle for me. How could I be a good writer and in English? So, I thought.

My vocabulary was limited. The imagination simply was not in existence or anywhere near me. I thought I could not express my feelings and my thoughts easily, readily and vividly. 

"Read your story aloud," Shirley Wilson, the facilitator in the class, suggested. "Hear your voice; listen to the sound of the words." 

Shirley's words came as an awakening. First, I realized that I had been writing since childhood. Secondly, I discovered that I did express my feelings, especially when I read what I wrote. It seems that during the motion of writing, I pour in all my feelings on paper. When I read the words aloud, tears or laughter come to validate those emotions. Thirdly, I revealed to myself the hidden imagination which I avoided for many years because I could not recognize it.  

It has been a year since that first class attendance at Writer's Circle.  I have learned volumes about my writing abilities and skills from Shirley and the other writers in that class. Their encouragement and support not only spoke deeply to my heart, but allowed me to accomplish the writing of my first book. 

Joanna Petsalis
December 6, 2007