Blog Meme: A 7th Grade Memory

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.

The 7th Grade Novelist...with really bad surfer bangs. Don't judge.
The 7th Grade Novelist…with really bad surfer bangs. Don’t judge.

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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29 thoughts on “Blog Meme: A 7th Grade Memory

  1. It’s nice when we can somehow work our way back to what we love, isn’t it?

  2. How heartbreaking it is when people tell you you can’t achieve your dreams. Everyone also laughed/laughs at my dreams of being a writer. Keep on writing! You rock it.

  3. That’s so sad you lost your first novel. What a treasure that would have been. Obviously, writing was your passion and you should keep that alive! Boo on those people who discouraged you from pursuing your passion! Thanks for sharing this.

  4. It’s amazing on how much one person is able to remind you of everything you loved to do, before having to “grow up” and get a “real” job. I love your writing and share it with people all the time! I’m glad hot mess hubby helped you return to becoming what you’ve always wanted to be!

  5. I have a similar story with art. Dropped out of college and lost my motivation. I tried to get back into it a few times, each contributing more credits toward my degree, and at this point I only lack 2 classes to graduate. I feel like a different person now though. So many people laughed at me asking what my backup job was or if I had a fall back plan. I am now in my 6th year of the “realistic” job and while I enjoy art quietly at home – I can’t figure out how to get back to my final 2 classes or even entertain the idea of a different career path. The negativity just zapped the joy out of it for me 🙁 Hot Mess I appreciate that you tell it like it is. This world needs more face value, blunt, honesty.

    1. Danielle, while I’m glad to see someone who understands this…I’m also sorry that you do. I will never discourage another person from following their dreams. To think I could have been writing all this time and I just listened to the wrong people. Everything happens for a reason, though…and I know you and I will be just fine. Thanks for stopping by and sharing some of your story. I hope you find your way back to those classes, if only just for YOU.

  6. I love this! Isn’t it something how those who we most need encouragement from are the ones who snuff out our flame the easiest.

    Well done!

  7. I think you should reconsider the bangs decision. Do you still carry a notebook full of writing ideas for whenever the inspiration strikes you? I have mine on my phone now, but I miss the feeling of well-worn pages full of ideas. Great post.

    1. Hey there, Mama! The surfer bangs are gone forever, sorry. LOL. I do still carry a notebook with me: the Evernote app on my smartphone. However, I do have a fondness for #2 pencils (not the mechanical crap) and I keep regular paper at home for that…because there really is nothing like the feel of a #2 pencil on a piece of paper. 🙂

  8. I loveeeeeed this post 🙂 I grew up in theater, graduated with my BA in theater, and then lived in Chicago for two years for theater. Then, I moved back to Boston, back to my friends, and in with my boyfriend and didn’t really continue theater. I knew I had some itch to scratch but I didn’t feel like I had the drive for theater anymore. Then, I found blogging and its outlets for creative writing, and realized that maybe all those little awards I used to win for creative writing BACK IN THE DAY might have actually meant something to me and my life 🙂 And, I’ve never looked back!

    1. Thanks, Anna! I’m going to check out your blog later tonight!! I can’t believe I stifled my creative side for so long but I’m glad it’s out now!!

  9. Loved this! I love to write too – but have no dreams of novels, just want to get my thoughts out – and this week I determined to make myself write more purposefully. Thus my first week writing with MamaKat’s writing prompts! I’m SO enjoying reading what everyone is writing! I’ll be back to read more!

    1. Amy, this is only my 2nd MamaKat’s meme and I’m loving the inspiration I get and the new friends I meet!

  10. Found this from the Mama Kat link. Loved your description of your writing tools. (Pee Chee folder – swoon!) And Eric & Robert Hunkybutt – fabulous!

    Yes, you are a writer. So sorry that some tried to squash your dream. It is great that your teachers saw your gift. And how lucky that you’ve found such a supportive husband. (And I think you’re right – that sneaky Random House would have never thought to look under your bed!) Great blog! Keep writing!

    1. Thanks so much, Charlene! If Random House were to look under my bed now, all they’d find is a few hairbands and a couple pounds of dust bunnies. 😉

  11. Very interesting to know if the Hunkybutt brothers ever knew they were astronauts. I am sure they would get a kick out of that today!

    1. LOL! Tina, they never did know…and I lost touch with them when I went off to high school because they moved. I’m sure they landed on their feet. 🙂

  12. Love the bangs. And the brows. And your story-writing middle school tendencies. This was fun to read. 🙂

  13. Preach it sister! I heard the same thing, writing wasn’t a real career – get my head out of the clouds. Why do people do that? I sort of went your route just not so successful and now am trying out my writing chops again, with the support of my husband.
    You are a writer and I am so sorry that you lost that novel.

    1. Thanks so much, Ms. M. I have no idea why people do that, but I try to be super conscious of NEVER doing it someone else. I believe we can do great things if we just believe in ourselves.

  14. I love this message and that when all was said and done, no one was able to destroy that little light in you!

    1. Thanks so much, MamaKat! And super big thanks for your awesome blog meme/writing prompts!!!

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