#Slice2013 - Day 13 of 31

It's been a quiet day.
Reading, writing, reflecting.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't reading, asking for books, wanting to be read to.
Most of my childhood memories are of me wandering rows of books, searching for my next great find.

When I reached 4th grade, I started writing. Poetry, mostly. And only because my teacher gave extra credit for poems written. So I wrote. And I wrote. Bad poems. Silly rhymes. Honestly, I still remember that fat, red folder busting with notebook pages. I remember a poem that went something like this:

The fat cat
sat on a hat
next to a rat

In Fourth Grade. My teacher never said a word about my volumes of uninspired poetry.

But that's when the writing bug really hit.

By middle school, I was writing every day. I carried a binder with me to school, filled with poetry and short stories. I wrote and doodled through all my classes. Language Arts was one of my least favorite subjects. Ironic. And sad.

And by middle school, I found it more difficult to find books that interested me in the children's fiction area of our library. I wandered into the grown up books. I read Agatha Christie. Stephen King (a little, mostly it just freaked me out). Jung. Freud. Books on philosophy. Books on dreams. Books on spiritualism.

I never had a teacher recommend a book. The one time my dad offered me a book, Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon, I was in 4th Grade. I told him I didn't understand something in the book and he took it back, saying "I guess I was wrong. I really thought you were ready for these books."

Later, I read the whole series. Just because.

In high school, I had a folder on our family computer that held a myriad of files containing my writing. I wrote about our car accident. Teenage life. Stories about dysfunctional families. Every day, without fail. Fan fiction modeled after (I'm not kidding, guys) Sweet Valley High or any of Christopher Pike's horror books. I wrote screenplays. And so. much. emo. poetry.

In high school, I also found today's version of FaceBook, years before AOL even existed -- BBS' with multi-line dial-in's that had multi-player interactive fiction text-based games. I lost myself in creating characters and acting out story lines. I took those story lines and wrote even more of my own short stories.

I loved Sassy magazine, and their feature "It Happened to Me," so I wrote a story about my car accident, as true as I could make each word, and printed it out. I deleted the file, afraid my parents would read it. But I gave it to my 9th grade English teacher and asked her to edit it for me, so I could send it to the magazine. She asked if I had an extra copy, because she might lose it. I lied and said I did. She never mentioned it again, and embarrassed that it was so bad she hated it, neither did I.

When I graduated from high school, I deleted all those old files. I'll never want these, I told myself. It's time to grow up. My dad wanted me to get out there and earn a high dollar living doing something sensible. My mom just wanted me to get out, away from all the dysfunction existing between me and my dad.

So I did.

I got married, went to college off and on, had children, went to college off and on, got divorced, and kept writing. Journaling, poetry, short stories, ideas for graphic novels. I took every Literature class and Creative Writing course offered.

And the more I learned about writing, the less I wrote. The more I learned, the more I nit-picked my writing, until it seemed as bad as those 4th grade extra credit poems. And somewhere, deep inside, I decided I was a fraud. Someone that likes writing, but isn't actually a writer.

I let myself believe that for a long time. Then, with a lot of inspiration from NaNoWriMo, I finished my first novel. At right over 100,000 words, something about it's realness made me feel accomplished. Something about finishing something that took so much effort to complete, made me feel more whole.

But I still miss the writer I was when I didn't know I was a writer. I miss middle and high school me, that could sit down for hours in front of the computer and write with abandon, happy and excited, and thinking through the plot without care for sentence structure or literary devices. I miss the child in my writing. The exploration just for the sense of adventure.

And I'm working on navigating my way back to her. I think she misses me, too.


  1. Kelly-
    This piece makes me sad. Especially this section, "And the more I learned about writing, the less I wrote. The more I learned, the more I nit-picked my writing, until it seemed as bad as those 4th grade extra credit poems. And somewhere, deep inside, I decided I was a fraud. Someone that likes writing, but isn't actually a writer…" And the sad thing is, I suspect many of us have had very similar experiences. So glad that you are finding your way back to your real writer self now.

  2. Oh Kelly - I identify so strongly with this post. I used to fill notebooks with ideas for characters, figuring out what they would have in their closet and what kinds of cereal they would eat.

    I cringe to think back on the writing I did back then. My elementary poetry was about aliens and the solar system, my high school stories were powered by time machines and romance. I do wish I still had them, though..

    And now? Now I have no faith in my ability to stick with a story long enough to complete it... let alone then HANDING it to someone. *sighs*