Ever since before I can remember, I loved to write. Over the course of my life that love has never died, though my ideas and motivation tend to come in fits and starts. The earliest story I remember writing was for my 6th grade English class. One day every week, the period was devoted to silent journal writing. We were allowed to write whatever we wanted, we just had to write for the whole period. Some students wrote diary entries about their day or week, others wrote poetry or song lyrics, but I began a short story about a girl who could speak to animals.
It was around the time The Wild Thornberry’s was popular on Nickelodeon and I loved the idea of being able to communicate with various creatures. In elementary school, my best friend and I would play pretend where we were animals being hunted by poachers. I drew on those experiences and that became the plot of my story of the girl who could speak to animals.
Every week I would write a new “chapter” in my story. After the teacher graded our journals, we were given an opportunity to share what we had written. I was shy, and new to the school after moving to a new town in the middle of the school year, but I felt like sharing my story would help my classmates get to know me. I remember them being responsive and excited for my weekly sharing. It made me feel like I was born to tell stories.
Ever since then, I have always had a notebook close to hand. It was easy when I was still in school. Most of my class notebooks had story ideas scrawled in the margins. In high school, my best friend and I wrote fanfiction of our favorite anime and would exchange chapters every week. I probably spent more time writing those than I did my regular homework (sorry mom).
I studied math in college, earned my Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, but I never lost my love of writing. When I wasn’t studying, I was reading. I was soaking up the written word and storing away words and phrases I liked. Sometimes those would be mental notes, but if a notebook was within reach, I would write them down.
Computers are great for typing, but I have always preferred to start by hand. It’s too easy to hit “delete” or “backspace” while typing, and then forget how you got where you are. With a pen, unless you completely burn the page, it’s much easier to follow your train of thought should you decide you want to revisit a phrase you thought didn’t work before, though I don’t deny the usefulness of CTRL + F when searching in an electronic word document.
I still have the handwritten pages of my 11 year-old chicken scratch. They’re in a folder in my desk, along with the dozens of other pages I’ve written over the years. Folders and notebooks, all filling my work-space with childlike dreams and teenage angst and young adult determination. They serve as reminders of how far I’ve come and inspiration towards the future.
I tend to buy new notebooks whenever I get a new idea. I delude myself that “this time, I’ll devote this notebook to one story” as I have so many times before. I think, I won’t get distracted from it if it’s all in one place. But inevitably it fizzles out, or I lose interest in it, and the notebook joins its predecessors in my desk drawer. My desk is full of half-filled notebooks, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Closet Full of Notebooks.
The mind of a writer is a strange place indeed.