My first memory of purposeful writing was when I was, oh, a second grader, I think. My mother made me angry about something I’ve long forgotten, and I made a list of all the things I would never do to a child when I was a parent. I don’t know what happened to that list, but I distinctly recall making it. I don’t remember if I was sorry I wrote it and threw it away. Maybe Mother found it and tossed it. Maybe it got mixed in with stuff to be trashed. Whatever happened, I don’t have it now. As a mother myself, I so wanted to see it, over the years. I’m interested to know what upset me so badly when I was seven, and to know if the list had any valid items on it. What a wonderful heirloom it would have made to pass along to my own kids. Anyway, it’s gone.
As a first or second grader, I remember writing a story on one of those papers that has an empty space at the top and lines at the bottom. The story was about hail. My teacher had labeled the circles in the illustration as “hail,” so my parents would know. (Was the attached story not enough to inform them?) I do remember having a fascination with hail. I don’t recall if that fascination was due to getting frozen hailstones during warm weather, when we didn’t even get much snow when it was winter. I do recall, though, how much I thought the word “hail,” sounded like that other, similar-sounding word that I was never, ever allowed to say. That could have been the most interesting thing about it. I could say “hail,” as often as I wanted.
Maybe I felt wicked about it.
When I was a sixth grader, I wrote poetry. I wrote lots and lots of it, I remember. Sadly, I gave them to a summer enrichment teacher that June for her opinion.
I never got them back from her and was too embarrassed to ask. I would so love to have those, to see what was on the mind of the eleven-turning-twelve-year-old me. The only line of the only poem I recall was about a girl who was sad and thinking about her mother. The last line was “Her mother was dead.”
I’m sure I penned some happy, upbeat poems, too. But we’ll never know.
I sold the first thing I ever wrote to submit for publication. I didn’t know how unusual that was until much later. I had friends who wrote preschool curriculum for Lifeway Christian Resources, (then Baptist Sunday School Board). They said I should write, too. So, I wrote up an experience I had with my own four-year-old and sent it to the editor of a leisure reading piece that came home with him each Sunday. Just like the suggestions I would read later on, I did indeed “study the magazine.” We read it aloud on the way home from church each Sunday. I had noticed that sometimes, the entire leaflet was written by the same person. So, that’s what I did. I wrote a story, a short poem, and a parent and child nature activity. The editor bought the whole thing, I was published! Much to my dismay (and, frankly, surprise), that wasn’t a trend. Over the years I’ve had *lots* of things go bravely out and come limping back.
Still, I write. And send.