Once upon a time, a girl was assigned an essay in Mrs. Cole’s 8th grade English class. That girl was me. It wasn’t meant to be a creative writing assignment, per se, but I’ve always liked to color outside the lines (Not literally, of course. That freaks me out.). The assignment was part of a contest to best describe what we thought the colors on Mars were and I had, what I thought, was a brilliant take on the idea. I thought the colors could be sounds. Mauve was the color of women laughing. Blue was the color of children playing. It wasn’t exactly what my teacher had in mind and needless to say, I didn’t win the contest, but I think that was my first taste of what it could be like to create a world where anything was possible.
How it Started
During the early years of high school, I spent a lot of time with my beloved aunt. She had many physical disabilities and, for the most part, was confined to her house. My sister, my cousin and I spent a lot of time with her over those couple of years. She had a pool and bought us junk food and let us stay up late watching movies. She even had a room for the three of us to sleep in when we spent the night during the summer. My aunt loved country music, particularly Dwight Yoakam. She used to write poetry or, what I think in her mind were country love songs. If my sister and cousin went swimming when I didn’t feel up for it or picked a movie I wasn’t interested in, I sat with my aunt and wrote poetry about the boys I had crushes on in school. One week it was Matt and the next it was Mario. My auntie even bought me my first rhyming dictionary. Poetry was never my favorite style of writing but I enjoyed doing it with her. Unfortunately, the day I got my driver’s license, my aunt died and so did my love of poetry.
It wasn’t long before I found another creative outlet because when you’re a writer, you can’t not write. I’d thought about writing a short story before. But how could I? Weren’t short stories reserved for the talented, more experienced writers? I didn’t know what I was doing. Until I realized I did. I’d been writing short stories for years I just hadn’t called them that. Sometime during Junior High, my best friend and I invented a game we used to play every time we had a sleepover. We laid in bed with the lights out, waiting to fall asleep, and had ten minutes of silence to come up with a story in our heads and then, when the time was up, we took turns telling them to each other. Since we were hormonal teenagers, they were all of the romantic persuasion and, I won’t lie, they usually revolved around one *NSYNC member or another (2 chocolate chip cookies to the person who can guess my muse). We played this game into the early hours of the morning until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. So when I finally sat down to write my first short story, I just pictured my best friend laying next to me in the dark, giggling over the juicy details.
My First Stories
I can’t believe now how old our computer was then. I actually remember saving my story to a floppy disk so my parents wouldn’t be able to read it. I was so excited to run home each day after school to add more to the story, in hopes of one day soon having enough to print out and give to my sleepover buddy, because there was no way I’d let anyone else read it. I even set the story at the cabin in which we used to spend the weekends during the summer. I had a very clever reason for an *NSYNC member to show up in our little town, population 1,000. As you can imagine, it wasn’t long before I made the fatal mistake of not having a backup and I lost my story.
But that was okay. I had plenty of other stories to share.
I continued to write fan fiction stories and pass them to my friend between classes, hoping she wouldn’t leave it lying around for someone else to see. I printed them out and edited them with a red pen in the back of my dad’s truck while he ran errands. I spent hours thinking of new ideas and then sneaking off to the back office to type them out (thank goodness I’d had the sensibility to take that typing class Sophomore year). I never thought anyone else would read my silly little stories, let alone the two people I was so deliberately trying to hide them from.
“I really liked your story,” my dad told me one day after he’d been out running errands with my mom.
“What?” I asked, blood rushing to my face.
“Your mom read your story to me in the car. It was beautiful.”
I was shocked. I’d left my printed out story about my teen crush in my dad’s truck and horror of horrors, he’d read it! I waited for him to tell me how ridiculous I was or, worse yet, give me the “you’ll never make money writing” speech (my dad is all about making a career for myself) but he didn’t. He just smiled and told me how proud he was.
Could It Be The Real Thing?
And it went on for me like that. In my Sophomore year, I accidentally got placed in Junior English class but I still completed the class with an A. In my Senior year, my Media Studies/Speech teacher told me I wrote some of the best essays he’d ever seen. In college English, my teacher taught me how write humorously and enjoyed watching me grow. I loved to write and it seemed, others liked to read it.
But then, as it always does, life got in the way. My parents moved away and I had to get a place of my own. Because I needed to work more hours to afford it, I dropped out of college and focused all my time on starting a life for myself.
I went so long without writing, in fact, that I forgot I ever loved to write…
Read Part 2 to find out if the damsel in distress ever writes again!