Letting Life Lead
10. I remember the first book I ever read and understood when I was between four and five years old. Indeed, I remember the very word that made it all “click” that the letters meant something and created a picture in my head for the first time. I remember the old couch I was sitting on and my mother had the ironing board out. I can still smell that hot metal smell and hear the “shhhhh” of the steam. The word was “Perdy” and the book was Disney’s 101 Dalmations. I had that awakening moment where I realized I was reading and comprehending. “Perdy. That’s the dog’s name!”
9. When I was around ten I grew bored of books in my age group and began reading fiction like Stephen King’s Cujo. Even though I didn’t understand 75% of it, I began to rewrite scenes in my head because I thought, “I wouldn’t have written it that way.” I decimated the young adult section of my local library and was such a familiar face, I had the privilege of taking out as many books as I wanted! It was like having a Library Gold Card. The day I discovered, Tolkien, was the day I knew what writer’s talent truly was.
8. From the age of twelve until sometime in my mid-twenties, when I suddenly lost touch with that inner writer, I carried around notebooks with me constantly so that I could write down the things in my head. My fingers were terribly calloused.
7. I daydream all the time about stories I’ve made up sometimes with characters of my own, or characters from other sources doing the things I want them to do. My husband is always asking me, “Where did you go?” when I get into my head.
6. In my late teens and twenties I created a database of names for use in the million stories I was sure I was going to write, and I gathered up books so that I could write about things I knew nothing about and had had never experienced.
5. I haven’t written a story in a notebook for years, but I still have them all. Throwing them away would be like throwing away a vital organ.
4. My mom threw away the very first poems I wrote when I was in 7th grade in Ms. Hutchinson’s class (loved her because she assigned Edgar Allen Poe to read and I’d already read ALL of his most popular works and ALL of the Greek Myths she assigned) and thirty years later I still haven’t forgiven her. I remember the subjects (a limerick, a long poem about wild horses, and a fiction piece on a stuffed toy fox). I have failed to reproduce them, but bits and pieces of them float around in my head just out of reach like those gray-spot optical illusions.
3. Even when I couldn’t manage to write anything more than uninspired Facebook blurbs of a couple of words, I never stopped thinking about those stories in my head. They are never quiet.
2. In the years when I couldn’t write the way I did when I was young, when I had lost all confidence, and all the times I started trying to write and ended up staring at a blank page or screen, I still longed to get the words out.
1. Whenever I hit send, I pause and hold my breath. I feel as if I am sending a baby out into the world to fend for itself under the threat of scrutiny and judgment (plus I edit everything a hundred times).
...in which I share all the writing. And you will love it, dammit.
Try. Try again.
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