A writing history

It goes without saying that I’ve been writing ever since I knew how. As soon as I learned how to hold a pencil and write my ABCs, I’ve been writing.

I honestly don’t know where the creative writing talent comes from. My parents claim to have no such creativity, and I don’t know if any of my other relatives write in their spare time. About all I know of any writing lineage in my family is a great-relative (in name only, not by blood) was a poet, and she saw fit to change the spelling of our family’s last name to make it look more poetic. A relative after my own heart.

Most of my earlier writings consisted of writing and illustrating silly stories for grandparents to read. I still have a couple of them, but I daren’t post them because, well, they’re silly.

Kindergarten was where it all started for me, knowing that I could do this seriously. I wrote and illustrated a storybook called “Me and my kittie.” It was as simple as it sounds. Here are a couple examples of the storyline: “My kittie likes to play with a ball of yarn” and accompanying illustration, and “I give my kittie a saucer of milk to drink” with a drawing of such. Simple.

My kindergarten teachers loved it. So much so that, when they had a parent-teacher conference with Mom and Dad after I wrote it, they asked what was the name of our family’s cat. And Mom and Dad looked at my teachers and said, “We don’t have a cat. We’ve never had a pet of any kind.” And the teachers’ eyes all bugged out of their heads and their jaws hit the floor. The storybook won me the Mosaic Award for my age level. And that was the official beginning. (Only we never got the storybook back, sad but true.)

From that award-winning literary accomplishment, my writing actually went nowhere, at least, not that I can remember. I either just didn’t write at all, or I wrote so badly, I’m embarrassed to even think about it. My worst offense occurred in sixth grade, when I wrote these really horrendous poems for inclusion in the class writing anthology, which bore the title “Young Authors Spill Their Guts.” (Hey, I didn’t vote for that title – the rest of the class did. Plus Olivia Kieffer, the resident artist, liked the drawing possibilities.)

At the time, I really didn’t want to write those poems. I mean, I meant to write poems for the anthology….but I didn’t mean for them to turn out as badly as they did. I’d been getting so much negative feedback on everything I did, what with the bullying and all, and I sort of fell into a mindset that writing was mindless, all nonsense rhymes and absurd images. Oh, trust me, the poems were very bad! I don’t dare post them, ever, end of story.

So it was with that sixth grade anthology that I had the breakthrough in terms of what, exactly, I wanted my writing to be like. Seeing those horrible poems in print, I vowed never to write anything like that ever again. Plus, three of my classmates – Kindra Goehler, Jenny Wendt, and Crystal Warning – each contributed fantastic stories to the anthology. When I read those stories, I was like, “Yes, this is how it should be.” So Kindra, Jenny, and Crystal were three of my earliest writing influences.

As for story ideas, after that anthology, I dabbled here and there, nothing concrete or too serious. Looking back, some of those ideas were actually kind of interesting. Here are some of those ideas, to the best of my recollection:

~ There was the idea about four young siblings who befriend a semi-hermit in their town.

~ There was the fantasy story idea, which had to do with a Narnia-type world, only it was going to be underwater. And they weren’t to be called ‘seahorses.’ They would have been called ‘unidols,’ a cross between a unicorn and a dolphin.

~ There was the series of short stories about different kids facing different scenarios in various cities I’d lived in thus far.

~ There was a story about a group of girls who rallied around a bullied friend; this was actually meant to be a comedy, to a degree, only I can’t remember exactly why that was. (Told you, I’m warped. There is nothing funny about being bullied. Personal experience.)

~ There was a horror story series, akin to “Tales from the Crypt,” brought to you by your spooky Goth host Dutton Candretta. That all sprung from a dream I had about a girl with a cursed necklace. Yes, I actually dreamt up a whole complete story. Would’ve been great, too, if only I could remember it all.

My real jumpstart at writing came courtesy of an eighth-grade classmate named Beth Bottje. Often times in English class, she and I would be paired up to critique each others’ writing assignments, and she would constantly tell me I should really be a writer because I was so good at it. Thanks to her encouragement, I entered a poem into the schoolwide poetry contest. That poem, called “Duffy and Tessie,” took second place and was published in the local paper with the other winning entries.

That was the true start.

And it only got better from there, what with creative writing classes offered in the high schools I went to. I continued to write short stories and poetry, and branched out to think about tackling a novel or two. The high point was when four pieces of mine were chosen to be published in the school literary magazine my senior year of high school. One of those pieces, a monologue, won the third place prose award. It was amazing, and it made me want to work harder and write so much more.

But then I got to working in the real world, and my writing faltered for a time. Not that I ever stopped, mind – March 2000 was a particularly good month writing-wise; I wrote 12 pieces that month. It’s just taken some time to get back into that groove. I’m just about back in the groove, but not quite. Ideas are bubbling up to the surface. I just need to write them.

I’m still working on “Cherchez La Femme,” “Canto Laudate,” and various other projects all at once. Whenever a poem fancy takes me, I’ll write it. Haven’t really had any bones for a short story lately, but I will get thinking about that. Check out my “Works in Progress” page for more information about things I’ve been working on.

And I am finally about finished with the Book Project I’ve been working on for family and friends. I put together a ‘portfolio’ of some of my best work, and I’m going to inquire at Copyworks as to what it would take to get the Book professionally bound and copied. I might even upload it somewhere as an e-book. Just something to think about.

So. That’s just a brief overview of my writing history.

Hopefully, there will be more to come in the future. 🙂


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