I think I was probably born with a pen in my hand (if only I could hold the damn thing…) and thousands of ideas that had been incubating – I guess literally – for nine months.
As soon as I could form sentences that didn’t sound like absolute gibberish and mastered the use of the opposable thumb, I was writing.
I wrote poems. Terrible poems about Christmas and my dad’s tie that were published in my school’s newsletter.
Short stories about ants and anteaters being friends. Before my time on that one. You’ve heard of a little show called Unlikely Animal Friends, right?!?
A stinky skunk named – get this – Stinky (classic eight-year-old originality right there) who was trying to woo his (also stinky) girlfriend by finding the *perfect* flower. And horrible nonsense from my high school creative writing class that I’ve since blocked from my memory.
I wanted to be a writer. Or a psychologist. (Also later something to do with art history. See: thesis.) But that doesn’t really fit into this story so ignore that random factoid and let’s stay focused.
So, naturally, I went to college and declared, emphatically, that I was an English major. Well, after I not-so-emphatically declared I was an education major and quickly backpedaled after teaching summer school…🙅🏻♀️
I must have convinced myself that a dead-end English major was better than a dead-end creative writing major. (What? I can say that. I WAS an English major.)
I spent 3.5 years studying Shakespeare. The Odyssey. American Pie (the song, not the movie). Australian lit. Contemporary lit. Poetry. Greek mythology. Art history.
None of which was creative in the least bit. Yeah, okay, I had to be creative in coming up with something original(ish) to say about this stuff in the countless papers I wrote.
But it was academic. Polished, structured, well-researched and cited, you know, per the proper guidelines.
Somewhere, I don’t know, probably around the first month of my freshman year, I stopped writing anything for myself. (It probably really happened after that creative writing class, honestly.)
No more random poems about dumb shit clueless teenagers convince themselves is life or death. No more clever couplets, happy haikus, light limericks. No more attempts at stories featuring animal heroes (and heroines) of any kind.
And that’s the way I thought it had to be. If I wanted to write, I had to *write* for a living. And, for me, that didn’t mean I was the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Sylvia Plath. Hell, I wasn’t even gonna be a journalist.