A few nights ago I visited my parents and was greeted with a bag of childhood paperwork. Most of it contained postcards from vacations, letters from family, notes from friends, and mementos of a perfectly normal childhood. However, I also found some of the stories I wrote when I was younger. With a catch in my throat I read one out loud to my mom.
I was moved by these few stories not because they were great, but because I found them. Several years ago I reread a stack of stories I wrote in middle and early high school, and after being disgusted with the immature writing tossed each in the trash. I’m sure they were burned a few days later. These were stories I wrote while on the bus to and from school. As each chapter was completed they were passed around on that bus and read by friends. Sometimes my friends would beg me to hurry up and finish the next chapter and I would find myself writing with a frenzied haste to meet their demands. That was a sweet time of innocence and hope.
Unfortunately I don’t remember if I finished the story. I do however remember a few crude comments from people who really shouldn’t have mattered. I also remember writing other stories, submitting them to publishing companies, and being rejected. As much as I told myself that it didn’t matter, it really did. Eventually I became busy with the activities of being a teen, then the activities of being an adult, and I stopped writing with that feverish quality of a harried person trying to beat some impending deadline.
However, just below the surface there were little stories bubbling up at inopportune times. Such as standing in line at the grocery store and wondering what would happen if the building began to sway, twist, and move as if coming to life. Little scenarios of how people would react as they realized they were trapped in the belly of a living building would quickly play through my mind. Then it would be time to check out and I’d joke with the cashier about the mundane things of life. Never would I mention the little insanities of my imagination. Sometimes I would write those little snippets of imagination in a personal notebook, but usually they simply disappeared into a creative black hole.
Then that plastic bag with a few stories appeared from the depths of a forgotten closet, and I was reminded of how much I loved to write. It came at the right time. Recently I’ve attended a few writers’ group meetings. These meetings were more instructional than collaborative and that’s okay. I needed instruction and a good reminder of what creative writing was really about. I also needed something to take my mind off my so far unsuccessful job search. Plus I needed to be reminded that I can successfully compete in something.
So I dug further and found a magazine that published an article I wrote in high school. I then found a certificate from a college competition congratulating me on a sci-fi/fantasy piece written while attending high school. I also found those rejection letters from publishers and reread them to find that they weren’t so much rejecting my work as they were encouraging me to try a different angle.
As a child there were two things I dreamed of doing. One was becoming a librarian.
I’ve since completed the first step of that by graduating with a degree in library science and information services this past May. The other was writing and watching others enjoy what I created.
Questions formed in my head about childhood passions and dreams.
Can we go back and pick up where we left off?
And why do we let our dreams fall away to the mundane requirements of life?
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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/5075477519/”>© 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>