The following essay, which aired on CBC Radio’s “First Person Singular” in September, 2003, explains best how Dorothea feels about The Writing FairyTM mission.

Every now and then my husband says something profound. Last time it happened was in 1992 – the year I celebrated my 41st birthday. I was grumbling about the fact that I was halfway through my life if I was lucky, and that I’d always wanted to be a writer, and wasn’t it too bad that I hadn’t pursued a writing career, blah, blah, blah.

With that irritating male logic look in his eyes, my significant other stopped my whining with, “So, be a writer.”

“Huh?” I countered.

“Be a writer,” he insisted. “Find out what writers do, and do it.”

He doesn’t remember making that suggestion, but like the urgent reverberations of a church bell, his statement echoed within my consciousness, reminding me that time was running out to worship at the career altar of my choice. They say that if we’re open to receiving new ideas, life hands us what we need, and what happened a few days later was evidence enough to convert me to the faith of synergy. I opened the local college calendar and saw a creative writing course listed. I called, registered and took the first step on an exciting – and in many ways terrifying, new life path.

How accurate clichés are for describing that 10-week experience: “It changed my life”; “I never looked back.” Corny, maybe, but from the first class, my life has been different. The instructor didn’t so much teach us to write, as give us permission to be writers. To allow first drafts to flow without agonizing self-doubt pushing aside possibilities. To risk rejection in order to revel in the rapture of opening an envelope and seeing the words, “We want to publish your article.” Cast in the role of Annie Sullivan to our Helen Kellers, she led us to the well and pumped and pumped until one by one we cried out “Wa” in our unique literary voices. Most of us were in our thirties and forties and felt we’d finally made the connection – we write, therefore we are writers.

Recently I was reminded of that first-night euphoria in the same course at the same college – except now, I teach it – have for several years. Class one generated the kind of magic that happens when like-minded people who have felt alone in their passions come together and share. We talked about how it feels to know you’re a writer but to be afraid to say it in case maybe deep down you’re really just a fake. We discussed the intense need to record ideas, experiences, desires and despairs, as though the stroke of a pen or click of a keyboard sets them in some kind of timeless concrete. We confessed a common addiction to the intoxicating lure of reading. And we helped each other realize that even the most celebrated authors of all time started somewhere and had many of the same insecurities. As soon as I announced that class was dismissed, a young woman in the back row raised her hands in the air and announced, “I feel like I’ve come home!”

I said, “Yes, you have. This is the mother ship. Welcome.”

Oh, we laughed at my little joke, but her comment was much more than a bit of fun. She wasn’t kidding, and I KNEW exactly what she meant. I understood the fevered heat that pushed her past the threshold of comfort into her new world of identity. I understood that the fever was and is contagious, and that each student’s life would now be different – not because of me, but because of the writing.

Over the years, I’ve taught dozens of people who, like me, came to writing as a profession later in life. Who, like me, thought that maybe they were weird to want to write as a serious pastime. Who, like me, needed a nudge to declare for the first time, “I am a writer,” and to experience the incomparable feeling of exhilaration that accompanies those words. It’s been ten years since I first uttered them, and the only thing I’ve found that feels any better is inspiring someone else to do the same.