"I'd like for you to introduce yourself in third person," her writing professor told the class. "Tell your story the way someone else might tell it if you weren't here."
It was her turn. As she began, she made eye contact with each listener. That's the kind of writer she aims to be: a wordsmith who makes eye contact with the reader.
I'd like to introduce you to Tricia Lott Williford. Tricia decided she wanted to be a writer when she was very small - actually, as soon as she discovered that the stories she loved were written by real people.
As a little girl, Tricia stayed busy in church by rewriting Bible stories in her own words. Her mom still has these misspelled pencil drafts filed away, including Tricia's story of Adam and Eve and their encounter with 'a snack.'
Tricia won a short story contest in third grade with her piece entitled, "Monica's Broken Arm." And that's the day she learned that she might be good at what she loved most.
Tricia has an undergrad degree in education, and she taught third grade and kindergarten. She loved the classroom. She loved teaching children to read, to write, and to enjoy both.
In 2000, Tricia married Robb.
In 2003, Tricia and Robb moved to Denver.
In 2005, their son Tucker was born.
In 2007, their son Tyler was born.
In 2010, Robb died suddenly and tragically, two days before Christmas.
Today, Tricia is 32 years old, a widowed single mom.
When she left the fulltime classroom to become a stay-at-home mom, she quickly realized she didn't love the stay-at-home scene, and she began writing every day as an outlet, a discpline, and something to call her own. She launched a blog called Teaching Tuck and Ty.
She had a very modest readership: 50-60 readers across the country - mostly friends and family. On the day of her husband's death, an unknown someone posted a link to her blog on Twitter with the words, "Please pray for this woman. Her husband died this morning." Overnight, her blog went viral and her community of readers grew exponentially.
When her world fell apart, few things remained. She held fast to the discipline she had established years before: she kept writing every day. She has written in sunshine, in darkness, and always in honesty. Her readers have joined her in the highs and lows of this year, and she has invited them to come as close as they choose to the gripping truth of what they fear most.
She has begun working with an agent and publishers, and she is working on her book manuscript, And Life Comes Back.
Tricia and Robb long dreamed of her career as a writer, speaker, teacher, and author. Her husband used to say, "She'll be the writer, and I'll retire early." The tragic irony is not lost on her: he has indeed retired early. So she continues to write.
I hope you can meet her someday. She's one tough chick.