3 Things About Me (Welcome!)

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here and I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

My name is Hannah and I am a writer, professor, and dog mom living in Lakeland, FL. Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, the snowiest city in the United States, I am constantly inspired by the contrast of my two “hometowns,” focusing much of my poetry and fiction on nature and a sense of place. In July 2018, I landed my dream job as a Creative Writing professor and I haven’t stopped pinching myself ever since.

My intention for this blog is for it to be a landing place for conversations about teaching, writing, reading, and creating. As an introduction, I wanted to share three facts about myself that might give you some insight into my journey (as weird and wonderful as it has been!)

I entered college as an Education major and changed it within two weeks.

I met with my advisor one time. One time and I decided education was not for me. She was a wonderful person and extremely helpful, but as she read off the responsibilities of an education majors (semesterly classroom observations and the inevitable student teaching internship), my stomach felt sick. I wasn’t excited by these opportunities; I was terrified.

I switched my major to Religion and learned how to read and write research, analyze text, and think deeply. These skills served me well when I eventually went on to pursue an MA in English and Creative Writing. Undergraduate Hermeneutics is what got me through graduate level Lit Theory.

I’m currently working on my third degree: an MFA in Creative Writing (fiction), and even though I’m flexing different learning muscles, I’m still using the skills I learned in the first two degrees in a new way.

The best part about all of this is I still ended up teaching…and I’m now in LOVE with it. Every step of of my journey was built on the last and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have been writing since I was 4 years old but didn’t call myself a writer until I was 20.

Like many artists, I’ve struggled with my identity my whole life. Though I’ve been writing and submitting for a very long time, I didn’t get anything published until 2017 (unless you count the time my school used my script about Marco Polo for the school play when I was 8).

Because of this, and because until 5 years ago I only considered writing a hobby, I never felt qualified to call myself a writer. But I’ll tell you what, things began to change when I finally gave myself permission to use that title.

The way we speak about ourselves and the identities we claim make a huge impact on our abilities to create. I’ve watch this play out with my students.

Many of my students don’t believe they’re good writers (some have even been told they’re not good by past teachers which breaks my heart). We have worked together to flip the script. Instead of “bad writers,” we talk about ourselves as developing writers. We talk about writing as a practice and that every person in the room, if they’re writing, is a writer. Their perspectives changed and many began to actually enjoy writing (which is huge for freshman Comp!).

If you need to hear it today, I want to tell you: if you’re writing, you’re a writer. Own it. Claim it. And work at it!

I have 3 tattoos and 2 of them are literary.

I’ve been drawn to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis since I was a little girl. There is something truly magical about the world he built. Narnia brings me back time and again to that place of childlike imagination. This tattoo is a reminder that I was “made for another world.”

This tattoo is a quote from my favorite poet Mary Oliver describing her instructions for living life.

For me, it encompasses my calling as a writer and as a person. It is also a tribute to the poet who has impacted my life so much.

This is my only non-literary tattoo and it was my first one! In every climate exists some species of evergreen tree. They not only grow but thrive in whatever environment they are planted in. This is how I want to live my life too!

What about you? If you’re reading this, I would love to hear 3 facts about you or your journey as a writer! Leave a comment and let’s connect!

-h.e. benefield

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