When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a writer. Throughout the years, I wanted to be a doctor who wrote, a professor who wrote, and even a forest ranger who wrote, but the desire to make a writing life never ever abandoned me.
The only time I felt any peace or satisfaction as a teenager was when I was putting words down onto the page. And so I wrote. I wrote a lot, because I needed peace and I needed satisfaction and because I could not find it anywhere else. I wrote in the margins of my notebooks, and I wrote notes to my friends, and I wrote in the journal I carried with me at all times. I wrote my dreams, my fears, my complaints, my feelings, and all the things I felt I could not tell anyone.
Twenty years later, when I was recovering from my stroke and healing and reclaiming my memory, I wrote in my journal as therapy. My journal was my short term memory bank. It was my reassurance that I would “come back like Lance Armstrong.” I would write and write, and thus rebuild my neural pathways like muscles doing a particular movement in order to come back a better writer.
Writing has saved my life in so many ways. Writing enabled dreams, it heard my secrets, it gave me comfort, and it healed me.
I’ve thrown away many diaries and journals–at one point during my freshman year of college, I burned them all in a boyfriend’s fireplace, watching my secrets turn into smoke. I regret doing so, even though at the time I felt I absolutely needed to do just that. I felt I had to burn my past to move forward.
But there are a few journals that withstood time. I found my creative writing journals from the third grade. I was eight years old. It was 1981.
The very first entry was the first school writing assignment in which we had to write about our summer vacation. It cracks me up, because the basic imprint of the adult I would become is still there; having not read this in nearly three decades, I discovered that I hated waiting in lines even then.
Also, so much of what’s written is out of emulation–firstly, very apparent is the reasoning of my father, who actually asked us to have a strategy for which rides we rode and when, with the sole purpose of efficiency. If my dad had twelve kids, he’d be the Korean Cheaper By The Dozen Father.
My handwriting is also not my own just yet. It’s emulation of the standard cursive handwriting so many of us were taught back then (do they even teach cursive handwriting in school nowadays?). It’s nice to see the scaffolding of the person I’ve become.
“This summer I went to Disneyland. We went on Small World first because we knew that there was going to be a long line. Then went on the Submarine Voyage. There was a long line. We waited for a long time. And at last it was our turn. We saw lots of mermaids. And then we went on Skyway Fantasyland and the Monorail. The Monorail took us to the Disneyland Hotel and back. Then we went home. At home I put on myplayclothes. I played with my brother. I ate dinner. And then I went to sleep.”
And the next thing may have been my first piece of fiction. Or at least, my first recorded piece of fiction.
“Once there were four friends. Their names were Shorty the snail, Slow Poke the turtle, Fuzzy the duck, and Big Mouth the beaver. They were always helping. It started like this. One day Fuzz was taking a walk. Suddenly he slipped and fell in a pit. He yelled a lot and then at lat there was help. It was Big Mouth. He pulled Fuzzy out of the pit and thats why they helped a lot.”
Apparently, I had not yet been taught any comma rules.