Ever since I was a little girl, all I wanted to do was write. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. It’s just always been one of my favorite things to do. When I was in first grade, our school participated in a program called Book It! You had to read a certain amount of books and in exchange you would get a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. I’m here to tell you that I took two things very seriously; reading and pizza. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so any opportunity I could get for something other than Hamburger Helper or Ramen Noodles, ya girl was all in. Book It was my gateway drug. I remember sitting at a plastic kids table in our living room with a stack of books and just reading through them all, one by one, and making sure my mom put them all on my list. And I still wasn’t the top reader in my class, (thanks a lot, Brandon). I imagine that right along with my love of reading, my competitive streak was also born in 1st grade.
I didn’t let Brandon ruin my life though. My love for reading continued to grow. I read every Baby Sitters Club (and Baby Sitters Little Sister) book that our local library had, and then I managed to get my parents to buy me a new one for my own collection, every payday while we were out grocery shopping. Of course, I would start reading as soon as we got in the car and usually it was read and added to my pile of finished books by Friday evening. (Just in time to watch TGIF.. SCORE!)
After I drove my parents to point of bankruptcy with my reading addiction, (and likely bought Ann M. Martin a used car). I decided to turn to writing. I started with writing scripts for my friends and I to act out, all based on Baby Sitters Club of course. Naturally, I was Kristy, the bossy one…. (some things never change). I’m still a control freak, but man, if you know what you like you just can’t help it.
Anyway, throughout school I continued to write here and there. Mostly atrocious poems about heartbreak, you know, typical 11 year old shit. In High School, I wrote a poem in our keyboarding class and my teacher encouraged me to enter it in a local competition at the college.
I entered it and I got to go to the competition, and spend the day on the campus. I saw that my poem hadn’t been judged yet. I figured it wouldn’t even place, so I wasn’t too concerned. After a few hours of exploring exhibits I came back to double check things before we left. As I rounded a corner there was a girl standing in front of the poem wall, and she was bawling. Not, like the single delicate tear kind of crying, but sobbing. I cautiously moved in closer and she was reading my poem. My writing had led someone to tears. My fictional work about a high school girl committing suicide, had won first place. If a kid entered a poem like that now, I’m sure it wouldn’t be allowed to be entered, at least not without a giant TRIGGER WARNING sign draped against it. And I’m not saying that’s wrong, I just can’t help but think that those words were just hanging there for anyone to see and it feels like it was a completely different planet.
But something changed in me that day. My words had moved someone. I had caused this much emotion, and it felt good. Is that sick? I kind of feel gross for even saying that.
Anyway, I decided then that I absolutely wanted to be a writer. Maybe a journalist because that seemed like a reasonable choice? So, when I was a junior, I did a project for school over what career field I was going to pursue. I interviewed a local journalist, and he told me “Find another career. The hours are awful. The pay is awful. Find something else to do.”
So, here I am talking to you. Ta-Da!