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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Normally people start at the beginning, but I can’t remember the beginning, so I’ll start in the middle. 

You see, I have high-functioning Autism.  I believe that came from when I got the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) shot when I was a year old, but there’s no evidence for that — besides the fact that my development decreased immensely, and I can’t remember anything before the age of eight.  But there’s no physical evidence. 

Well, my story begins in fourth grade when we took a field trip to…wait for it…Wegmans!  I know, right?  Such an exciting place to go on a field trip.  At least, our teacher thought so.  So much so, that she had us write a four-page paper on what we learned on the trip and what we would like to learn more about if we went again. 

I went on the field trip, but I was completely zoned out.  The salmon on ice and I became besties while the “tour guide” was talking.  I had no clue what I was going to write about, let alone what the purpose of the trip was.  So, when Miss Bundy placed the two sheets of college ruled lined paper on our desks and told us to write our first drafts while she made lesson plans, I had to learn to lie, and fast.  

I stared at the paper and thought about what I would write about.  I chewed the eraser on the back of my Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil down to the nub, and then tapped it on my chin.  After the pain of that set in because I had tapped it for a good thirty minutes or so, I started drumming my fingers and counting the imperfections in the paper.  I was stalling and I knew it.  But I just couldn’t think of anything that could be put down on the page. 

Then, it hit me, like the dodgeball to the face earlier in gym class that week. Bread.  I should write about bread.   

So, I put my abused pencil to the paper (we weren’t allowed to use pens) and I started writing.  I wrote about how the whole grain white bread loaf we got for free changed my life.  I wrote about the taste of the bread, the look of the bread, the way the bread felt in my hands, and the heft of the bread compared to other breads.  If Wonder got their hands on this bad boy, they would’ve been in heaven.  It was an absolute masterpiece.  Four whole pages about bread.  And, somehow, someway, my teacher loved it.  I got the first draft back with less than ten edits, and once I fixed those, I got to turn it in. I got a 100 on the piece. 

For the next two years, I would keep writing and perfecting my craft. But one day in sixth grade, my teacher started talking about future careers. I sat there and realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do. Before I realized I had a knack for writing, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals and I wanted to work with them for a living.  But that went by the wayside when I was getting 100s on papers I wrote and low 70s on science and math tests/quizzes.  So, as Mrs. Sage stood at the front of the room and talked about how she became a teacher, I sat there and thought about what I wanted to do for my career. 

Earlier in the prior year and at the end of fourth grade, I got into dirt racing. I had been wrenching since first grade and had a love of transportation since a young age. I mean, I would play with a Tentis-induced Tonka truck in the mud instead of Barbie dolls, and dad always had NHRA or Monster Jam on, so I grew up watching at least one form of motorsports on TV.  Well, another form got added when I was eight years old. 

My grandparents lived in the town over from us, and every weekend we would go visit them. Well, sometimes my dad had to work overtime, or my mom had a lineage organization meeting she had to go to, so the other parent would drive me.  If it was dad driving me, he would take the more scenic route past the old, abandoned factory…well, at least that’s what I thought it was. 

Every time we would drive by it, I would rubberneck like crazy. Finally, one day, my dad asked, 

“Why do you keep looking over there?” 

“Because I’m curious,” I said. 

“Do you know what’s back there?” dad asked. 

I bobbed my head up and down.  “Mhm.  It’s an old, abandoned factory.” 

I sat there smug, happy with myself for knowing what was back there.  Then my dad laughed, and my smile started to falter.  Why was dad laughing?  Did I say the word abandoned wrong? 

“That’s not an abandoned factory,” dad said with a smile on his face. “That’s a racetrack.” 

“A racetrack?” I said. “Really?” 

“Yeah. Would you like to go sometime?” 

I sat there and thought about the races I saw on TV and how much I liked them. 

“Sure,” I said. 

“Okay, we’ll go next week.” 

I’m sure dad thought that I wouldn’t like it and that we would never return.  Little did he know that he would create a little racing-obsessed monster at eight years old. 

We went and I got hooked.  We went, and still go, every week faithfully.  It’s part of my life, and I even make sure that family vacations revolve around Friday nights.  But ever since I started going, I had an obsession with it, and the bigger series that would come to the track and be on TV I found an even bigger obsession with it.  I would make slideshows, research the drivers and find out everything about them.  At the time I didn’t know it, but I was doing the work a journalist does. 

Well, after school got let out for the day, I went home and started researching careers that involved both racing and writing.  The only things that were coming up were journalist and sportswriter. I pondered upon those findings for a week or so, and then it hit me. I knew exactly what my career path was going to be: motorsports/automotive journalism. From that day forward, I started really working on my craft. 

I went from an eighth grade graduating class of eight to a small, public high school class of 91. That number would go down drastically, and I would only graduate with 65 others, but when I started high school my class was above 90 students. I was scared that I would lose my momentum I had gained in my writing because of bigger class sizes, but that was not the case. 

My ninth-grade English teacher, and tenth-grade Creative Writing/History of Comedy teacher, Mr. Nevins, was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.  He helped me improve my writing by telling me exactly what I needed to work on.  Right before Covid hit, he told me that I was one of the best writers he had ever seen throughout his 20+ years of teaching. That made me feel really good. 

Even when Covid hit, and I had absolutely no schoolwork to do at all from March until June (for some reason my school just didn’t assign anything online) and the only thing I had to do was do a weekly journal for English, I learned stuff from Nevins.  We also connected because we’re both huge fans of 80s music, moreso hair bands. 

The next year, I signed up to take his elective class.  Half of the year was writing, and the other half was watching comedic films.  Both classes were great, but the writing one was the best.  Each day before class, we were given a prompt and we had to write consistently for about five minutes. At the five-minute mark, you had to stop where you were and finish your sentence or leave the rest of the piece unwritten. Let me tell you, I got a LOT of great story ideas from that. 

That class also taught me how to let my creative juices flow. Nevins would assign us some random prompt, or type of poetry we had to do, and said it just had to be done by a certain day and that was that. There were no rules.  So, me being me, I went all out with it.  And by doing that, I learned so much more about myself, where my strengths are when it comes to writing lie, and what I love and don’t love about the art.   

The next two years of high school English would be with Mrs. Fournier.  As much as I love Mrs. F and was happy when I got her as a teacher for the second year in a row, she never really affected me like Nevins did.  But the teacher who did affect me during junior and senior year was my Automotive Technology teacher, Mr. Jeckovich. 

Now, the guy couldn’t write at all, and it took him about 20 minutes to compose a single sentence email, but he really made my life better.  He supported me in everything I did, and constantly bragged about me to his co-workers, colleagues, and friends. Especially when the thing that put me on the map happened. 

At the end of tenth-grade, my mom pushed me to publish a book. Mind you, I wanted to publish a book that would really sell.  A more adult-like book that I would enjoy reading and could become a series and possibly a Netflix TV series (hey, some people’s dreams are movies, mine is having a show on Netflix.) But no, my mom made me publish a historical fiction book. The Fort Niagara Bayonet was released in my junior year of high school. 

I’m not saying I regret publishing it; that couldn’t be further from the truth. But what I am saying is that I didn’t enjoy writing the book. Yes, it looks great on a resume, and yes, I brag about it a lot, but it’s just not great work.  It got some great sales, and I made bank from it, but clearly my audience agreed with me that it wasn’t great work because my next book that was published my senior year, The Oriskany Button, sold hardly at all. 

I’ve been complimented on my books my multiple people, and those compliments make me feel really good as I do appreciate all feedback on whatever work I’ve published, good or bad. But I feel as though if I would’ve done my idea for a book, or I should say my most recent idea, because Lilac Liberty was my idea from when I was a child, I would be with a major publishing house somewhere. But alas, that idea didn’t work, and now I’m left with two books I’m happy I published, but not proud of. 

Brooke Johnpier is a contributor to the SBU chapter of Her Campus. She writes about the more "manly" topics of the site, including automotive, motorsports, mechanical, technical, DIY, and anything hands-on. Brooke is also using this platform as her personal blog, of which she will talk about more personal things that she feels the world should hear about. Besides Her Campus, Brooke is a part-time motorsports journalist for Speedway Illustrated, a columnist for Race Pro Weekly, and a staff writer as well as a social media promoter for The Podium Finish, where she is interning. Brooke is also a writer for The Bona Venture (News, Features, and Sports), TAPinto Greater Olean, WSBU The Buzz (Music, and Sports), and PolitiFact NY. Brooke is also involved with St. Bonaventure's literary magazine, The Laurel. Brooke is currently a freshman at St. Bonaventure University where she is majoring in Sports Media with minors in Native American and Indigenous Studies & English. In her free time, Brooke loves reading, going to the local racetrack, riding four-wheelers, working on cars, and riding in tractor trailers. Brooke is a music lover, and will talk about most any genre, especially her favorites which are rock and rap. Brooke is also a percussionist, a published author, and a women's rights activist. Brooke is also a member of several lineage organizations, and currently holds a national position in one of them. As well as writing for campus media, Brooke is involved with Faith in Fiction, Jandoli Women in Communication, the History Club, College Democrats, and the Indigenous Student Confederacy. A fun fact about Brooke is that she was the only female to ever be in the top 5% of the Automotive Technology class at the trade school she attended in her junior and senior years of high school.