I’m not one of those writers with a closet full of journals and notebooks dating back to first grade (but I do have a drawer full of empty Moleskin notebooks of all sizes … any day now!) My creative writing track record is a series of stops and starts.
A few months ago, I would have told you that it began around seventh grade. But I recently found my first story, probably from third grade, judging by the legibility of my handwriting. It tells the story of a young boy who had his dog stolen and later had it returned by the police. My family didn’t have dogs and I don’t recall any particular interactions with the police. I did watch Lassie faithfully, and my guess is that a few episodes provided the fodder for this work.
In seventh grade, I wrote a story about turkeys in training *not* be selected as Thanksgiving dinner. It was funny, although not to the turkeys who weren’t that athletic, and I got laughs when I read it aloud at school. I liked that. I did an encore performance at the family Thanksgiving dinner table.
After we ate.
I fashioned myself as a writer after that, and I started a journal (too cool for a diary) that contained sporadic patches about life as a teenager and keen observations on the world. I also started to look for more creative opportunities. I may have written the only lab report comedy in my high school’s history. It did get an A. My Latin teacher was less impressed with my vignettes about a girl (puella) and her cows (vaccae), but they amused me to no end during directed assignments. I wrote my only play during English class my Junior year. It was called Janice Meets Jonathan, and it told the story of pigeon Janice who meets celebrity seagull Jonathan (of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame) on a bench in Central park. It got me another A, my only one from a very demanding Mrs. Carlson!
My freshman year in college, I studied creative writing with Daphne Athas, a Chapel Hill legend, and I returned home for the summer to fill up a notebook with angsty poems when the weather was too cold for customers at the pool I guarded. I looked at it recently. My Lord !!!
And then I studied a lot of math and statistics and computer science ...
Stay tuned for Part II.