Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits

Jan 22, 2019

My (Writing) Origin Story

Yesterday we got our first DIY MFA Book Club prompt:

Writing is a superpower and every superhero has an origin story. What’s yours? When did you realize that you wanted to write? What motivated you to get started?

My origin story began in pictures.

I was always someone who loved to draw. THAT is the person I remember. Although my father just recounted the fact that I was reading out loud at age three, and when I was tested for kindergarten I was reading at a fourth grade level.

Color me shocked. Not really.

But as I said, I loved drawing from an early age. My grandfather kept me supplied with reams of paper. Literally reams of it (I apologize to the school he worked for in the seventies that must have wondered why they spent so much on paper supplies), which I spent doodling and drawing the stories in my head. I know I did a lot of Thumbelina stories, with lots of mice living underground, and others. So, I always had stories in my head.

When I was in elementary school I was one of those "gifted and talented" children. Luckily my school did a lot of enrichment work with those of us who tested that way, and I remember doing some story work as part of it. I think it was fifth or sixth grade when we actually got to work on creating our own book, written and illustrated! Putting two loves like that together was just ice cream and sprinkles for me. So was born my book Super Apple and The Grape Twins. I was definitely a Saturday Morning Superheroes fan at that age in the early 80s: SuperFriends was always a must-see for me, and I loved the Wonder Twins.

Except for some marker bleeding doing the illustrations, it was stapled and bound with cardboard and clear Mylar covering, handwritten story. My first book. Plus I had the added bonus of it actually going into the elementary school library collection, and I remember working the circ desk (another Gifted and Talented treat, little did I know that it foreshadowed my current career choice) and having it checked out and returned.

I did continue to write in junior high and high school. We had a literary magazine that I contributed to, along with being the editor. In college I left art and writing behind, except for furtive, angsty poetry that I didn't share with anyone.

When I was taking my graduate classes I came back to some creative writing in my children's literature course, as for a final project we had a choice, write a paper or write a children's book.

So guess what I did? Of course I wrote a book. A children's picture book, in fact. People in that class told me I should try to have it published, but instead it sits in a file with my master's degree diploma.

I didn't believe in it - or in myself. But here I am 15 years later, thinking about all the moments that I did write, and did find people reading it. Which is why I am here today, once again.

Thanks for following my journey with me.