Growing Up Writer

I’ve talked before about how I “officially” became a writer around 13-14, but I think I was probably always destined to be a writer. Even as a child, it crept into my life. Of course, it made you a weirdo at that stage, wanting to do MORE schoolwork than everybody else, but I liked making up stories and I liked writing them down.

I didn’t go to kindergarten, because at that time (I’m old!) in the state I lived in, it wasn’t mandatory. I think you could have your child take a test, and if they were sufficiently advanced, they didn’t have to go. In any case, I started schooling with first grade. I don’t recall learning to read and write being particularly difficult for me, I just remember not liking those sheets where you had to form your letters correctly, largely because I’m left-handed and back then (again, I’m old!) it was still bizarrely frowned upon. Yes, if you’re too young to remember, or had no awareness of it because you’re a righty, they used to discourage kids from being left-handed! I was allowed to write with my left hand, but I had to use a grip on my pencil because I didn’t hold the pencil “correctly,” which is hard to do when you’re literally writing upside down. To this day, I still hold a pen strangely. At least I was ALLOWED to be left-handed. My grandmother was forced to become right-handed and would have her knuckles cracked by the teacher if she wrote with her left hand. This was really a thing.

In any case, I learned to read and write pretty fast, and I have a clear memory of writing an entire essay in first grade. In second grade, I won a contest for writing a story about a family living on a houseboat (the accompanying drawing was terrible though, I am NOT an artist), and I think my fate was set. I was always the kid who took writing assignments way too seriously. If we had to make up a story, the other kids would do the minimum while I’d be the one turning in a three-page story complete with plot and multiple characters. This continued into high school, too.

I took a creative writing class in high school, and one of our first projects was to write a story that hinged on us getting to know our classmates better. Everyone had to use their initials to create an adjective and profession (for example, someone with the initials AB could be an Awesome Baker). We then had to make up a brief story using 3 or 4 of the “characters.” I remember most people wrote a page or two, but oh not me. I wrote a six-page serious murder-mystery. To my horror, the teacher decided the best story would be read in front of the class, and guess whose it was? I remember not feeling proud so much as mortified that everyone would think I was kissing up to the teacher or trying to show off. However, I also remember my teacher saying “Ah, so you’re the one who’s actually going to be a writer,” and that has stuck with me to this day.

Growing up a writer is weird, especially if you’re not surrounded by creative types already (which I wasn’t). Still, my teacher was right. Here I am, actually being a writer!

What’s your “growing up writer” story? How and when did you figure it out for yourself, and how did it make you different from others?

12 thoughts on “Growing Up Writer

  1. I remember I had a left-handed classmate in the primary school who was also monitored by the teacher not to write with her left hand (and hit on the knuckles when she did, to learn not to do it again). Until fourth grade she learnt to use only right hand, but I don’t remember exactly when during primary school. Yes, this was the thing done then, it seems not only in my country. Parents were grateful that the teacher did it to their child. It was part of education, “teaching her to write properly”.

    As for me, I resonate with your story. I have been writing from first grade too. (For us kindergarten = preschool = not writing and reading, just playing and learning stories, shapes, colours, etc.) When I was in the eighth grade and we did general cleaning, I remember I found a diary book (or agenda? those dated things, each page for a day) where I had written in the winter of the first grade a story about a witch who flew over a man and turned him into a rabbit. At that eighth grade time, I had already written “a few novels” (full notebook-stories, don’t ask me about literary value, as they had none, but for that age it shows imagination and perseverence, despite a lack of logic and other flaws). Since the first and second grade I was praised in class for “making beautiful phrases”, “interesting compositions”, and since second grade I had some pinned on the class’s wall gazette (this was a thing then in most schools in my country). The teacher knew since then that I’d become a writer. In the second or third grade I started dabbling into poetry too, and I had some poems pinned on the wall gazette or published in school magazines.

    My first “novel” (see above) was written in the sixth grade, on 2 notebooks. I still have one of them, having lost the other (come on, there are 30+ years since then… ) It was western, Karl May style, minus certain logic between actions… 😛 (I also had attempted my first fan fiction at 10, before knowing that fan fiction existed – a thing I learnt late in life, at 41: after reading the “Jungle Book” – and decades before Disney issued the second one – I wanted to continue it. An attempt stopped after 8-9 pages, by lack of inspiration, I said then. Now I’d say lack of research).

    So people knew I was writing. I was admired for it, but considered a little weird for not having the normal preoccupations of a girl my age. My friends and a few other people wanted to read my notebooks.

    Then when PC appeared, I transcribed them on PC (the ones which had literary value/ were salvageable) and heavily edited them. In the meanwhile, I had read online all the articles of creative writing I could get (it isn’t a thing in my country, unfortunately). So I knew better how to identify and correct lack of logic plot issues, and some other flaws.

    I got the chance to know a publisher and have a debut book published in June 2016, and a second one followed in March 2017. Another one is pending publication, another getting finished…

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    1. It blows my mind that being left-handed was somehow considered wrong and kids would get actual physical punishments for it. If the child can write, who cares which hand they write with?!

      That’s a wonderful story! I too filled notebooks with ‘novels’ and I still have some of them today–but I wouldn’t even look at them because I’d probably cringe so hard I’d pass out! 😀 It was a such a great time though, exploring and becoming a writer, figuring out who I was and what stories I wanted to tell.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, I love it! And a huge CONGRATULATIONS on your publications! May you have many more!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a lefty, and though I write with my left hand, I’m fairly ambidextrous and do a lot with my right hand, like eating and using scissors. My teacher in first grade actually sent a note home to my mother, telling her to stop “trying to change” me to a righty (my parents were NOT doing that) because I couldn’t use left-handed scissors and they didn’t believe that I used regular scissors at home. Weird.

    I’ve always loved to write in some shape or form, and I have also always loved to sing. (My parents told me years ago that I used to sing into my pillow at night, saying I had to get all the music out of me before I could fall asleep. Dork.) Now I have two jobs—I get to read and write (editing and blogging), and I sing at my day job (worship leader). I guess I got the best of both worlds, in a completely different way than I would have anticipated way back when.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m ambidextrous too! I do a lot of things with my right hand. I’m not sure if it’s because we grow up in a right-handed world or we’re just wired that way. I have a lot of left-handed people in my family too, so maybe being left-handed is genetic. No one tried to make me stop writing with my left hand but they DEFINITELY tried to change how I hold a pen/pencil and it was painful. Even though I had and have GREAT penmanship, it seems to be something that freaks people out. If I have good handwriting, why do you care HOW I get the words on the paper?! I still have people who make comments when they see me writing, but these days it’s more like they’re baffled someone can write upside down like that. 😀 I think the greatest bane of the left-hander–and I’m sure you’ll agree–is getting ink on the side of your hand!

      That’s awesome! I don’t have a ‘secondary’ talent but I wish I did. I would love to be able to draw–alas, my brain seems to only be able to handle one artistic talent. And goodness, do you NOT want to hear me sing. I CAN do graphic design, but I simply think that’s the ability to learn to use software well.

      Thanks for stopping by! I always love your comments! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this! I totally relate to the love of school work. I was always happiest when buried beneath piles of books for homework or when the teacher made us write a story. Everyone would groan and I would have this goofy smile.

    I tried to ignore my writing side for forty years. I wrote stuff casually but never called myself a writer. I wrote some bizarre stuff when I was pregnant and some really weird stories when someone close to me died. It wasn’t until my fortieth birthday where I woke up and decided I would become a serious writer. Then the avalanche of ideas, stories hit me. The moral of the tale is don’t ignore it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great story! I’m glad you finally decided to stop denying it and embraced your inner writer. The world needs writers!

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  4. Hubby is right handed because he had a teacher who forced him to. Blows my mind because when I was growing up, all the other lefties and I were like ‘we’re so cool for being left handed’. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Being discriminated against for what hand you write with!

      Like

  5. heatherjacksonwrites November 17, 2017 — 8:54 AM

    Wow, your growing-up-writer story sounds exactly like mine – except for the left-handed thing. 🙂

    Like

    1. That’s awesome! We have so many stories in common with other writers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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