Words that Defined My Words for Life

Corinne Vance enjoying life on the beach when she was a high school student. Photo by The Delta Bohemian

Corinne Vance enjoying life on the beach when she was a high school student. Photo by The Delta Bohemian

By Corinne Vance

Writing has played many roles in my life. Writing has been a fun way to pass the time growing up in a small country town, it was my method of communication in elementary school, passing notes about which boys are cute and which ones have cooties, it has filled the pages of diaries with my thoughts, it has kept my days in order with an uncountable number of “to do” lists, it has allowed me to be my true self through the words on a page, and it will be what I rely on for my livelihood.

I plan to turn my passion for writing into my profession, and I have my 11th grade teacher, Mrs. Walker, to thank for that. All it took was a few words, which will define my words for the rest of my life.

My evolution of expression through text began before learning how to write. I would draw pictures in a sequential order, then I would ask my mother to write what I told her at the bottom of each page. I wrote my first book at the age of 4.

My mother encouraged me to keep writing all through my elementary years, and loved bragging to all her garden-party friends about how smart and talented her baby girl was, but what mother doesn’t brag on their child every chance they get? I did not think of my interest in writing as being a talent, I just had fun when I wrote, and finding something fun to do when you live in a small town 30 minutes away from any of your friends is very important.

In my bedside table drawer, I kept a small box that held all that was special to me. I had decorated the box in pink and yellow paint and spelled my name on the top using colorful jewels.

Inside the box were all my treasures: the first seashell I found on the beach, a picture of my grandmother and me, my birthday money, and all of my writings. When I was able to write without my mother’s help, I began to enjoy writing lyrics and short poems. I would dream of being the next Shania Twain and write about my secret crushes on boys in my class, but I made sure no one knew about my words I had hidden in my box. I felt embarrassed about my fondness for writing.

As I grew older, graduating elementary school and moving to a much larger middle school, things began to get in the way of writing. Cheerleading, school, friends, and the excitement of something new made writing begin to seem boring and like a waste of time. I quickly forgot about the keenness I had for writing and left it behind, hidden away in my secret treasure box where it would remain for some years to come.

Middle school was full of new thrills and a slight glance at independence. I wasn’t Miss Popular but I wasn’t at the bottom of the Lee Academy food chain either. I had formed great friendships and I was aching to finally be in high school. I could not wait to have a locker in the high school hall, get my license, be on the high school cheer squad, be allowed to date, and go to my first high school party.

I thought high school would be the pinnacle of my life up until this point. Although high school does come with a sense of independence and freedom I found that it came hand in hand with many challenges.

My high school career was filled with abusive boyfriends, bitchy female classmates, struggles of trying to fit in, and topped with the divorce of my parents. Although it seemed as if I had everything working against me, I remained optimistic. I had great friends in the class above me, and a mother that gave me hope on a daily basis. I was strong, but I was definitely wounded, not necessarily by the divorce so much as the toll of everything else.

As my mother and I moved out of the house I grew up in I came across my long lost treasure box. The colors on the box had faded and my name had become unreadable as through the years more and more jewels fell off, but as I rummaged through the old box all the wonderful memories of my childhood rushed back into my mind. All the cherished memories had faded from my memory until the words I had written brought them back to life. I spent the whole day reading and remembering. It was just what I needed to keep me going.

Corinne Vance during her kindergarten years with Snow Dog in the background. Photo by The Delta Bohemian

Corinne Vance during her kindergarten years with Snow Dog in the background. Photo by The Delta Bohemian


After finding the box I began to try and start writing again. I loved knowing that I could preserve my memories through my writings. I started writing about my emotions and the troubles I was dealing with. I found that after I would release my feelings onto the paper that I was able to clear my head and better understand what they meant. I became my own therapist through writing.

I continued using writing as a way to cope when in tough situations, but nothing more until my 11th grade English class with Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker is the most creative and open-to-life person I know. Her classroom was more like a playroom than an actual high school classroom, but I learned more in her class in a week than I did in any other.  Mrs. Walker opened my eyes to so many new possibilities, but one in particular.

 I was still writing at home on a daily basis when we were given the assignment to write three different style papers about events in our lives, and then choose our favorite out of the three to share with the class. Although I wrote regularly, I had never let anyone read my writings. I was scared.

I loved writing because I could spill all my emotions without holding anything back, however allowing people to know how I really felt seemed like a nightmare, but I did it. I wrote about my most embarrassing moment in middle school and how that moment led me to hold myself back to avoid any more pain. When I was reading it to the class I was sure I was going to pass out during the last paragraph, but I stood tall and told my classmates something I had wanted to say for years. It was scary, but it felt great and exhilarating to finally let go.

After class, Mrs. Walker asked me to come to her office as soon as school was out. When I got there that afternoon she said she needed to ask me a few questions. First she asked me if I enjoyed writing the papers. After I told her yes, she told me that she could feel my emotion through the words I wrote.

I had known that I could pull emotion out of myself through my writing, but this was the first time someone told me that I could do the same for someone else. I was shocked. She encouraged me to write more and told me something I will never forget; that “true passion in something that you do is a gift, don’t ever let it go, and follow it until it has led you to where you are supposed to be.” On that day I decided that I would major in journalism.

I am now an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) major and my plan is to be able to market for companies through journalism, while also writing for a magazine or online literary website on the side. I have been published, first in my hometown newspaper and now I have my own column writing for The Delta Bohemian.

I plan to do as Mrs. Walker told me and follow my passion until the end. It’s an amazing feeling to know what you are meant to do and love it wholeheartedly, and I have Mrs. Walker to forever thank for that.

Corinne Vance is a contributing writer for The Delta Bohemian. Read more of Corinne’s work under her column YOUNG & FREE.


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  1. Lord. What a wonderful gift you have Corinne. Happy to hear of your plans to take advantage of your talent for writting. I have no doubt you will bring your joy of life to many.
    God Bless!!! “Break A Leg”.

    Thank You,


  2. wondefully written, sweet daughter of mine.

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