Where Leaders Come to Think

A Writer’s Story


My earliest memories of writing were a fraud.

I approached Mr. Wagner’s desk and his face said it all. He loved my poetry. In my early academic years I was challenged to keep up. I pursued what I loved with a vengeance but that only included the Denver Broncos and playing football for the Arvada Bullets. (We never won a game.)

School was hard and I was used to being spoken down to. Not that day – Mr. Wagner looked me square in the eyes and said we found something special here. Mark, what inspired this poem in you?

I answer my deception with a lie. You see the poem in question was ripped off. No I did not copy it word for word but I did take a classic poem and made a few special adjustments to it. Just enough so the original would not be recognizable. However, the work in questions was certainly not the brain child of a budding artist.

Yet, at that moment the thrill of affirmation stuck. It felt good to be considered special. He liked my forgery. I imagined it would be like a painter whose job it is to imitate the masters. Call me naïve but something inside of my heart wanted to believe that I had what it takes to write.

I tried really hard after that. However, Like every other class that year, it ended with a less than stellar C- grade.

But the passion to write stuck.

Life has a way of moving faster than brains can adjust. For a season, I forgot I liked to write. After all I was still convinced that my future career included a first round draft pick and a paycheck the size of the Rocky Mountains. (That ended along with my growth spurt.)

However, in high school the bug hit again. I took my first journalism class. The B-teamers got placed on the yearbook staff but for a fraud wanting to learn the craft. It was a perfect place for me to try something other than forged poetry.

I wrote some of the most creative pieces of my life on that staff. I learned that you can’t make up things about your friends they might read.

Over the course of two years on yearbook staff, in my mind, I lost my fraud status. I loved to write but writers were a strange quirky groups of people.

I always saw myself as normal. (like now, I feel skinny but the scale says something different.)

College came and my professors did a remarkable job of drowning my love of writing. I was hit by the grammar police and would get strange marks on my paper. Comments like, “Mark you get an A for content and an F for grammar.” My overall grades were always average.

I buried my love for writing underneath A defeated heart.

Until I took an independent writing class. One professor let me fly. I wrote poetry, short stories all kinds of crap I no longer believe.

I was free to be a writer.

Perhaps you are like me. At some point you have buried your love for writing. I want to encourage you like my professor did. Let your writing fly. Give yourself permission to write. Learn to love all over again through the written word.

I guarantee you will not regret it.


Because that’s what writers do.


What did this part of my story stir in your heart? Was it fear, anxiety, shame or (hopefully) encouragement? Please leave a comment, I would like to know.


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  1. Kris G.
    Kris G.05-22-2012

    I worry too much that everything has to be perfectly polished. Don’t want to lose one of my 10 or so readers. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement to be free in the process, Mark. I admire your character and your writing!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia05-22-2012

      Thanks Kris you are a great writer with a great cause. You’re also a great teacher so I imagine that the perfectly polished thing would haunt you a bit. Here is my advice – Be true to the voice inside and if you make a mistake, don’t worry fix it later. What’s most important is the world hearing God through you. I know I am blessed by it.

  2. Merit K
    Merit K05-16-2012

    I love the way you express yourself, Mark. Your writing is inspiring and I am glad that you stuck with it through the “ups and downs” !

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia05-16-2012

      Thank you Merit, those are very kind words from a great writer and teacher. At least, I know my children will never get away with what I did!:)

  3. Kelly Combs
    Kelly Combs05-15-2012

    Mark – I loved it! I too have felt like a fraud for calling myself a writer, but now that I am writing regularly, I am starting to believe it. You are a great writer! Keep doing it. You are not a fraud. (Well, maybe on that one poem.) 😉

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia05-15-2012

      Ha! Certainly that one poem. Thanks for the encouragement Kelly I am glad that I am not alone in this writing thing. Have a rocking day and by all means change the world today. 🙂

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