I was in seventh grade. I think. Maybe eighth.
My friend Paula would know. She has a better memory than me. The advantage of not having kids, I guess. You get to keep all the brain cells.
Paula would come over my house and we'd hole up with an overflowing bowl of peanut M&Ms in my bedroom, each of us lying on the matching twin beds. I had a composition book. Not the ones with the black-and-white mottled cover. This was the one with the soft blue cover. The kind I later used in college. It was a state university, so they couldn't afford the hard-covered ones I guess.
Well, I'd write. Paula would add in her ideas. The story? Was about a girl our age. Only she was beautiful and popular - things I wasn't. But wanted to be. So I wrote and wrote about a life I imagined.
I don't know that it had a particular ending. I think we just lost interest (Paula was more popular than me. Boys wanted to kiss her) and the book remained hidden in my closet.
I moved on. I used to spend hours - HOURS - alone in my room, sitting on my red carpet with the threads of pink in it and making up stories in my head.
And that is something I've never told anybody. Because it seems, well, odd. It IS odd, let's face it. I would imagine myself as a character in Battlestar Galactica. Yes I did! I had a huge crush on Apollo (this is the original series, by the way, because I am THAT old) and would create all kinds of scenarios where he was my very cute, very attentive, very mature boyfriend.
It made me feel less alone, I suppose. It gave me a world I could control when my real world felt anything but. Thinking about it now, I wonder why it was all in my head - and not on paper. I mean, I never wrote anything down; the only writing I did was a little journalling. It's painful to look back at those entries now. Painful. Teenage angst always is, you know?
That I went on to become a journalist - a professional writer, and not just an imaginer - was by chance, but once it happened, I thought, "Of course. What else would I have been?"
A professional journalist. For 16 years. Motherhood eventually ended that career in 2005. I took a course - my first-ever writing course - about memoir soon after. And I found it tough to come up with words on my own. I was used to interviewing other people, to taking their words and weaving them into a story. And the story? Had a specific length. And a deadline.
Creative writing? Not so much. I've started and stopped. Started and stopped. I have several Word documents that contain maybe a dozen paragraphs each.
Four years ago I started my blog. It's been my outlet.
Because I have to write. I do. Yes, I can take a break when life intervenes and I'm too nauseous with morning sickness to look at a computer screen or too busy changing diapers and nursing.
But the reality is, there is something within me that always leads me back. It's part of me. For many years, it defined me.
Now that my kids are past the baby-baby phase, I feel it pulling me once again. I'm finally at the place where I want to stretch my writing wings. I want - I NEED - to put my heart out there.
I want to be 12 again, lying on my stomach on my twin bed with the pink patchwork comforter, kicking my crossed feet up behind me as I fill the pages with my dreams.