As part of Momma Kat’s awesome blog meme this week, I’ve decided to write about a 7th grade memory…so here we go:
When I was in the 7th grade and all the other girls were aflutter about which boy they were going to ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance, I was hauling a future literary masterpiece from class to class in my book bag. I kept it in an adjustable report cover, which was very well worn, and I added pages daily. Hundreds of pages of notebook paper with thousands of handwritten words were crammed together. On the cover, I’d sketched the outside of an alien temple that was the central location of the story within. It was the first book I ever wrote.
See, there were two brothers who were exceptionally dreamy at my school: Eric and Robert Hunkybutt. (Their names may have been changed to protect their privacy. I really can’t say.) While Eric and Robert were both quite handsome, it was Eric who’s big blue eyes and sun bleached hair really spoke to my out-of-control girly hormones. Dude was hot, okay? Hot. And while the other girls at my school were content to gaze lovingly at Eric and Robert in class, writing “Mrs. Eric Hunkybutt” on their notebooks…I was not.
Instead, I made Eric and his brother the central characters in my book. They weren’t 7th graders in my book, though, they were astronauts. Sent to another planet to investigate unnatural phenomenon discovered by NASA, they were the first brothers to fly in space together. I spent hours with them every day…and they had no idea.
At the young age of 11, I was very serious about my writing. My book was always with me, so that if inspiration hit me in the middle of math or home ec class I would be ready to go. In my book bag, I carried a pencil case with a variety of #2 pencils and erasers. I had written my masterpiece on at least three different types of notebook paper, all of which responded differently to erasers – so I knew that the pink gum eraser worked best with pages written on Mead 5 hole punch paper. The blue monster eraser I’d won at the school fair was best for the recycled notebook paper I’d used in the middle of Chapter Three. The eraser on my Peace & Love pencil was best for making adjustments to the report cover itself. I was a serious girl and this was my tool kit for success.
Once I came home from school, I locked my book in an old cash box my Mom had given me and hid it under my bed – because, of course, if any literary spies from Random House tried to break in and steal my brilliant manuscript they would never think of looking under the bed. I never took it to the dance studio when it was time for practice. I knew that The King, my evil father-figure/dance teacher, would enjoy making fun of me for believing that I could ever be a successful writer. Keeping me beaten down and demoralized was sport for him. So I kept my dreams of being a writer relatively quiet. Only my mother knew – and only because she was called by at least one of my teachers every year, who enthusiastically told her “This girl’s a writer…please encourage that!”
I still have the report cover in a scrapbook, but I have no idea what happened to the pages it once held together. As far as I can recall, I kept writing the story until I got to high school and (during a re-read) my much more mature/crazy 9th grader brain thought “OMG…this could totally never happen. What a piece of crap!”
I moved on to write other stories in high school and college and, once I quit the dance studio and The King was no longer exerting his negativity on my life, I enjoyed a brief solace from drama. My imagination roamed free for a time. At one point, I had 11 screenplays and 7 novels going. I found inspiration everywhere and in everything. I told everyone that I had found my calling and that I was going to be a writer. Bad mistake.
“You can’t be a writer. You need to pick something that you can fall back on so you can get a job.”
That was the standard line I heard from most of the people who were closest to me. I can’t be a writer. I need a career. Something to fall back on. Like an accountant…or a funeral director. It wasn’t long before I stopped writing completely. I quit college because if I couldn’t be a writer I didn’t want to go. I got a “real job” in retail…which lead to a “real job” in the corporate world. Before I knew it, I was managing a department and my imagination was nowhere to be found.
Don’t despair. There’s a happy ending here.
Isn’t it lucky for me that there’s something inherently wrong with my DNA and that I never really grew up? Isn’t it lucky for me that I married a man who is so supportive that he has, at times, forced me to sit at the keyboard and write?
No matter how many curves life throws at you, no matter how many cruel people you meet in your life, there is one thing you can trust that never falters: you are you, no matter what.
A tumultuous childhood, four different therapists, six years of therapy, and a whole non-writing career later…here I am. Still a writer.
People can try to blow out the spark that’s inside you. They may even dim it for a while…but it will never go out.
You are you, no matter what. So am I. And I…am a writer. But without the bad surfer bangs…because sometimes you do have to grow up and realize that some things just aren’t for you.
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