How Alizah Was Born

 Shoshanah at Alizah’s age.

I was born, Shoshanah Alizah, on October 26th. I am thankful that I got my mother’s family name and have always been proud to be a Kennedy. My maternal grandparents who I love are Kennedy’s and I couldn’t see myself with any other name.

Shoshanah, is hebrew and means a bouquet of roses. Alizah, pronounced A-lee-zah, is also a hebrew name and means joy. My mother said she named me that because joy is what I gave her. Two minutes later, she’ll go into how she was in labor the day before I was born and it was daylight savings weekend so she got an extra hour to be in labor. The joy obviously came afterwards. 

Ever since I was a child, I loved writing. I handmade all the birthday cards for my family up until I was a teenager. I really feel that because I stutter, I was given other talents in order to express myself. It’s so much easier to write down what I’m feeling. The words flow so much easier when they’re on paper because I don’t have to say it out loud and there is no one looking at me as I stutter. I don’t have to figure out a new word in the middle of a sentence because the word I really want to say won’t come out because of my stutter. 

I wrote poems and short stories all the time growing up. I even remember when I was in high school, I wrote a “teen romance” book. I was so proud of it. I think I still have part of it somewhere. Writing has always served as therapy for me. It allowed me the chance to express whatever mood I was having without judgement.

I allow my stutter to cripple me when or if I want to express myself. Sometimes, I’d rather stay quiet. If I really have something to say whether at work or in a debate with the hubby, I’ll type it out first and then read it when I’m ready to talk. When I see the words in front of me, I get more confidence when speaking. 

I made the decision to write Alizah’s Story back in 2017. When I looked for children’s books about stuttering, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. I wanted to be able to tell young girls who looked like me that even if they had a difference like stuttering that they were special and wonderfully made. Stuttering was not easy as a child because we all know children can be some of the meanest people on the planet. With writing Alizah’s Story, I could go back and tell myself certain things and help other children feel better about their differences along the way. 

From the very beginning I knew I wanted the character’s name to be Alizah because I am Alizah. It was my way of giving back to the young me. I started writing and wrote three quarters of the story and then life happened. I got distracted and put it on the back burner. It stayed on my mind but I never felt the urgency to complete it. At the end of 2019 I made the decision to finish the book and ever since that moment I haven’t stopped. 

My mother and sister Chaya read the first draft but I realized quickly that they love me so they’re critiques were minimal. My friend Julia was my first editor and proofreader. She’s an amazing writer and I was thankful that I had her from the beginning. By the time I got to the end, there were minimal edits. I got an extra boost of confidence when I met Derek who works at a publishing company through a former colleague Paul who is in communications. When they read the book and gave me great tips and said, I had something it gave me that extra boost to keep going when I got weary. Your family and friends love and support you regardless but when someone in the field gives you the thumbs up, you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. 

In 2019, I declared that 2020 was going to be my year. Now mind you, I said all of this before Kobe’s death, COVID-19, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, protests and probably what could be the biggest election of my lifetime. 2020 has been rough on everyone. 

For me, it allowed me the time to focus on getting my first children’s book published. With all the tragedy, I was able to have a triumph and for that I am forever thankful. 

Thank you for listening!

Shoshanah

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