Tales From a Shy, Quiet Girl

kindergarten picture Wendy Kennar

My Kindergarten School Photo

“Be regular and orderly in your life,

so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

– Gustave Flaubert

I first read that quote during my November writing retreat in Lake Arrowhead.  I have found myself coming back to that quote, re-reading it, and recognizing that it directly applies to my life.

I’m the girl who has always been described as “quiet.”  In fact, I used to be so shy and quiet, that my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wilson, asked my mom if I ever spoke at home.  For a while, I didn’t speak at all in my kindergarten class.  I was listening, I was watching, I was learning.  I just wasn’t speaking.

Obviously that changed since I was a graduation speaker at my elementary school, junior high school, and high school graduations. (In fact, Fairfax High School held their ceremony at the Greek Theatre). I was a teacher for twelve years, a career that required me to get up in front of a group and speak.  Every day.

Yet, I still consider myself a relatively shy and quiet person.  I don’t usually start conversations with random strangers.  I don’t always know how to extend beyond small talk a conversation with someone I’ve just met.

And I am most definitely a person who likes order and routine.  One day a week, I pay my bills.  One day a week, I go grocery shopping.  Each day, I write myself a list of things to do.

But, in my writing, I’m more uninhibited.  I’m more candid about what’s happening in my life. 

Last year, I wrote about the effects chronic pain has on my sex life.


Last year, I wrote about my mixed-race family.


Last year, I wrote about envying my son and my mom and the passion with which they live their lives.


Last year, I wrote about parenting while living with an “invisible disability.”


Those are just a few of my published personal essays from last year.  Not too shabby for a shy, quiet girl.  Makes me smile and wonder what I’ll write about this year.


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