Here it is, folks! In honor of ORIGINS Blogfest (a fabulous idea created by DL Hammons which hundreds of writer/bloggers are participating in today) I present you with my origins story – how I became a writer. Or rather how I knew I was a writer.
I’ve included the one sentence version of the story in many a bio I’ve written: I have been a writer since I was 10 years old and realized one day that I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I was in third grade. It had been a rough couple of years for me. My dad had walked out on us when I was 6, we moved halfway across the country to live near my Mom’s family, my Granddad (who had become a beloved father figure) had passed away very suddenly of a heart attack, and when my dad remarried he took my two older half-brothers (his sons from his first marriage) away to live with him. Trauma! I was struggling in school that year too. It sounds so silly to an adult, but my best friend from second grade had been put in a different classroom than me. I also had to learn long-division, which nearly killed me. Everything pretty much sucked far more than your average ten-year-old deserves to have things suck.
My third grade teacher was Mr. Morley. I adored him. One day we were given a creative writing assignment. I don’t even remember what we were supposed to write, but I ended up writing a story about a girl who made friends with and probably fell in love with a wasp (yes, a wasp) named Michael Greer. Now Michael Greer was a boy in my class that I had been in love with since he kissed me in first grade. This was the first instance of me making a character out of someone I knew. I’m sure it was also the first time I used fiction to express and work through my emotions. There was probably some deep psychological meaning to the fact that I would write a story about myself falling in love with a wasp (I was and still am to this day completely terrified of wasps) named after a boy I had a crush on.
Well, when we did these creative writing assignments in third grade we generally read them aloud to the class after they were graded. I still remember Mr. Morley asking to speak with me at recess. He was very tactful about saying that while he liked my story he didn’t think I should read it aloud. I knew what he was talking about and agreed. Thank you Mr. Morley for helping me to dodge a bullet that would have meant third grade social suicide! I loved him even more.
But this first critique of something I had written got me to thinking…. I had written a story and enjoyed the process of writing it, and even though I had handed it in to the teacher it hadn’t been read aloud like the rest of the class’s stories. So that meant that not everything I wrote would have to be on display for my class. And if I could write something for a class that then wasn’t shared, who was to say that I couldn’t then just write something for myself alone to enjoy?
That’s when I started writing. Granted, I didn’t do it a lot, just every now and then. Until something else coincidental and wonderful happened when I was in fifth grade. My Mom took a job as the secretary of the elementary school that I attended. When she was cleaning out the office she found a bunch of old school supplies that no one wanted. One of these items was a small spiral-bound three-subject notebook. I asked if I could have it. She said yes. For the first time in my young life I had in my possession the tools to write as much as I wanted. This was a notebook that wasn’t earmarked for schoolwork. It was mine to do with as I pleased. I believe I wrote another story in which a boy in my class who I had a crush on fell in love with me. And I think there was some time-travel involved too. Either way, the tide had turned. I was a writer.
I have boxes and boxes of spiral-bound notebooks with stories I started, ideas I’ve had, and boys I’ve had crushes on. I suppose I was always meant to be a romance novelist at that. Those notebooks lasted up until I got my first computer. I have a few ancient floppy disks with stories on them (that may never be able to be recovered). Nowadays I have a flash drive with everything I’ve written for the last five or so years. But really, it all goes back to those heavy, obnoxious boxes of spiral-bound notebooks that I’ve lugged from apartment to house to apartment to state to state for the last 25 years. And yes, I still have the original notebook.
I was born to be a writer. It’s as simple as that. And I’ll be a writer until the day I die and then some.
[Medieval Monday will return next week as I begin an exciting new series on Awesome Medieval Technology!]