@2011 Odilia Rivera Santos

I began writing at six to learn English because I didn’t want to be behind in kindergarten.

I quickly graduated from writing simple letters to God to writing short poems. I used to tear them up, thinking they weren’t very good. But I kept writing.

The first time I read my work in public was in a pretty high-pressure environment — in a creative writing class at Smith College at a podium. I had trouble breathing and thought I would faint. The anxiety was unbelievable. Everyone’s eyes on me, silence and their ears taking it all in — this was a crowd ready to argue over a preposition, pause, articles.

My eyes drifted to the tiny bird at the window sill, and I thought it would be nice to be a bird and not a writer. The professor told me to look at my audience and I did.

I read

I did not pee in my pants

I did not pass out

I did take a lot of deep breaths and flubbed a word or two

Everyone forgave my imperfections, applauded, and then, provided very astute feedback.

Those writing courses took my talent and years of solitary hard work to get a spit shine.

After that first class, I began to submit my work to magazines

and my first batch of poems were all published, except for the 10-page haiku.

If you allow me, I could do the same for you.

I will be teaching a creative writing course, on July 2, 9, 16, and 23, in the West Village.

My writing for writers blog: http://latinaauthor.blogspot.com/

Sign up here to take a writing course with me: http://skl.sh/lGWoDn