If it wasn’t obvious by now, I love to write. I love putting words to paper—or screen, as the case may well be.
It wasn’t always this way.
Gimme a baseball bat. I swing left. If I try to swing right, I just can’t twist that way and it doesn’t work.
Gimme a volleball. Even though my right spike is harder, it’s…well, I’ve seen scatterguns with higher accuracy. So I serve left.
Gimme a sabre. I’ll fence right until my arm gives out—which is kinda fast. Then I’ll switch left and be slower, but more accurate and last longer. …I guess that’s one we can validly call ambidextrous.
But overwhelmingly, if I have to do something I’m going to reach left first.
Which is why writing frustrated me at an early age. I’d thin left, but them Mom would walk by my little yellow worktable and ‘correct’ me—which probably explains the serial-killer slant I have to hold the paper at to even write on a straight line. It was a necessary evil.
It wasn’t until I was about seven, when we got cable, that I thought about writing for a reason that wasn’t a homework assignment. Nickelodeon introduced me to a cartoon called Doug, the main character of which regularly wrote in a journal—giving rise to my realization that writing things like that didn’t have to be a super girly “Dear Diary” moment, something I actively avoided being because—well, I liked videogames and cars, I simply couldn’t do that!
I saved my juice money from lunch for two weeks, then on a family trip to Family Dollar I bought a cute little journal. It had pretty lined paper and a picture of a kitten on its glossy cover. At around the same time, I bought my first ink pens—journaling didn’t seem like something that you took to as lightly as a silly homework assignment. I was coming at this with a pretty blue pen, just like Doug did in his show.
…of course that first entry was a goofy, jokey affair in which I introduced myself to my new journal, gave it an idea of what to expect, and then closed off with a signature.
For the first time I noticed that things around me were interesting sometimes. It was hard to keep to that clearly delineated two pages per entry after a while, and I developed my distinctive TINY handwriting.
I was still journaling when I lost my mother. Most of the following year and a half seems to have been an extended fugue state, and even though I’d think that the time just hadn’t happened, reading over those entries every few months was a reminder that time had simply not stopped, and I hadn’t just fallen out of the world at some point. At that point things were very straightforward accountings of what had happened that day. There were no associated feelings, just facts.
It wasn’t until fifth grade that I realized that writing could also be inventive and fun—hilarious in hindsight now that I think about it—when we get a homework assignment. We were to rewrite the ending to a story we read for class. I remember having the woman go insane, snap temporarily back to forgive her friend for something that hadn’t actually happened, then snap right back into madness (at one point I had her conversing fluent French to a tree). The third part got copied off of me and the turkey never got called for it—but I didn’t care. I’d started having fun doing little narratives.
Fast forward to seventh grade I’m twelve, in literature class, and BORED. I’ve pulled out a sheet of my good looseleaf—the narrow-rule paper—and have started writing down things that come to mind. Nothing I’ve committed to, just little snips of ideas.
Suddenly an assignment. Creative writing. Write whatever, as long as it has a clear plot, progression, et cetera. It must be based off of a legend.
I wrote my first short story for an assignment in class.
I didn’t know if it was well-received for a while…but then there was a thing in the school paper.
For one, suddenly we had a school paper.
For another, my story was in it.
Later that year, when our principal/lit teacher left the school, she flagged me down, holding a box. It had one thing on it: A note, reading “Never stop writing.” Inside was a Cross pen and pencil set.
I haven’t stopped since.
That’s when I get my idea...
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