West Virginia author Diana Johnson told Rhododendron Girls State citizens that she isn’t afraid of failure. In fact, she said she uses a four-letter word every time she doesn’t succeed.

“My word for moving forward is ‘next,’” Johnson said in her luncheon address at Davis & Elkins College.

A native of Fairmont, Johnson is the author of “Just DYI,” “Cold Daughters,” and “The Value of Miss Em.” However, her non-traditional path to writing came a little later in life and lifted her confidence.

Married straight out of high school, Johnson had her third child by age 23. In between raising her family, she wrote. Her notes and story outlines were tucked away while life happened – divorce, schooling, work as an LPN and, 20 years later, a fourth child.

Finally, when working as an educator and asked to teach math, she switched gears and focused completely on writing. Characters and scenarios from her life come together in her stories. She’s currently working on her next novel.

Through her life and connecting with her current career, Johnson shared five things she discovered for fulfillment and success: Friends, mentors, peers, creation of something and finding a place to reset the mind, body and soul.

“Don’t take a backseat to anybody,” Johnson advised. “Life takes time. Be courageous.”

Author Diana Johnson

West Virginia author Diana Johnson speaks to Rhododendron Girls State citizens in The McDonnell Center at Davis & Elkins College. She received a standing ovation after sharing her words of wisdom in encouraging the citizens to take charge of their lives and move past failure.