Saturday, March 09, 2013


If you ask Mom, I have been writing since I could hold a crayon. I don't remember it. I know that I took to handwriting well. The mechanics of holding a pencil, making the dots, bars, lines, and loops, and the connections between printing and cursive came easily to me. Creating a story, though...

I remember going out of my way to write during the school year after that refrigerator box of books arrived at my home. I was obsessed with reading at the time. When I was invited to join a writing group, I jumped in thinking we'd be writing books. Not so much the case as it happened. I joined a club called Power of the Pen. It was a competitive writing club. The kids competed against each other during each meeting, writing to a prompt in a short time frame following a set of rules (ex. don't write outside the box). Later in the year, we went to a meet where we competed against other kids from other schools. The winners got trophies and ribbons. Our essays were judged on a scale of 1-5 based on grammar, spelling, answering the prompt, creativity, etc.

I don't remember getting higher than a 2 on anything except creativity. I remember a 4 once in creativity. It was disheartening. I didn't want to write essays. I did that in school. I wanted to write books. Books! Glorious books! After one particularly awful showing, and snappy hateful words by the teacher leading the group, I decided I would never be a writer and left the group. That was in 8th grade.

In 10th grade, one of my friends decided that she was going to be a writer. She wrote poetry. I'm pretty sure I got an itch up my butt and decided that we were going to be writers together. I tried to write poetry like she did. She was pretty good. I was definitely not. I understood rhyming. I wasn't as up to scale on similes,  metaphors, idioms, and other figures of speech that made up a large part of my friend's early poetry. She used symbolism and alliterations and allegories. I used Shel Silverstein as my compass. Oops.

I remember asking my French teacher (who was also an English teacher) to read over the rough draft of one of my poems. It was a very visual depiction of... what I can't remember. Maybe it was an asthma attack? I remember the line "flopping on the ground/lips flopping open like a dying fish" and writing tough as tuff, rough as ruff, and enough as enuff. This woman hated the poem and she wasn't nice about it. She pointed out that my simile was stupid (like a dying fish). I didn't tell her I wasn't trying to write a simile. She pointed out that my "ironic" misspelling of tough, rough, and enough wasn't actually ironic. I didn't do it for comedic effect or irony. It was pointless to ask her what irony meant. This was before digital spell check and I just didn't know how to spell those words. She told me that the entire concept was ridiculous and that I needed a new hobby. Yeah, that was a teacher. Ah, the good old days.

It seems like, from early on, I kept returning to writing in a cycle of high hopes, dismal attempts, crushing failure, and utter contempt for the art. It took a very special (or stubborn, whatever) man to bring me back to writing in a serious manner. I was 18 when I met Steven at a bookstore at the mall. He was the manager then. It was through his friendship, advice, and support that I finally found the courage to try writing again. I was hesitant, resistant even, but over a period of years, I finally accepted that the universe has always meant for me to be a writer. Not short essays penned to the tune of a writing prompt. Not poetry. Books, yes. Novels! It only took 1/4 of a century, but I can now proudly say to the nonbelievers: I am a writer, dammit!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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