Throwback Thursday — That First Writing Spark

You know that magic moment when you decide that you really want to WRITE for realsies?

The first time that moment really hit home with me was nearly 11 years ago. In October of 2003, my family moved from New Mexico to Idaho. For me, that meant switching schools as well as states right in the middle of eighth grade.

Oh my gosh, guys, it was miserable.

Eighth grade is supposed to be the best part of middle school — if there is such a thing — because you are finally the kings of the hill. You’ve formed a group of friends through sixth and seventh grade, and you get to enjoy being top dog for an entire year before you find all-new friends the next year in high school. 

Not so for me. Poor little 13-year-old bipolar-Aspie Rae was thrown right smack dab into the middle of hell.

On the first day of class . . .
1) I got yelled at in geometry for not having my homework. Never mind that I hadn’t been in the STATE when it was assigned.

2) I got snubbed during tryouts for the 8th grade English play. Who wants to pick the new loner girl?

3) In traditional loner-kid fashion, I spent all of lunch and lunch recess alone.

4) I was alternately flirted with and picked on over and over by the cutest guy in the entire school. Greg would be charming to me at my locker, then laugh at me and spread derogatory rumors about me in class 15 minutes later. Our lockers were right next to each other. And we had every class together. 

As I said. Hell. 

I came home from class sobbing. My mom gave me a hug and told me to write a story where Greg got eaten by sharks or something. (She still does this, by the way.)

Before that day, I had only ever written Star Wars fanfics, stories in 10 pages or less, and poetry. The idea of writing a book had never even occurred to me. But I sat down with a robin’s egg blue notebook and started writing anyway.

That notebook started coming with me everywhere. I put my head down and wrote during every class, blocking out the teasing and hazing and cruelty and pouring myself into my new fantasy world. CAPTIVE WITNESS, as I entitled it, told the story of a 16-year-old girl whose activist parents had been killed by a crime syndicate when she was a child. She spent the book searching for enough evidence to convict the leaders of said syndicate and get them locked up for life. Oh, and falling for one of the gorgeous 18-year-old lieutenants in the syndicate when she was captured by them.

I poured all of my revenge-y, angsty, 13-year-old feelings into that book until I had about 25-30K’s worth of handwritten story. More stories came. More notebooks were filled. I continued this practice until I was 18 years old, when I started typing my stories instead of writing them by hand. (To this day, I still have no idea how I pulled an A in junior year calculus. I never did anything but write.)

Of course, I wouldn’t learn about querying until much later. (I consider myself lucky. Those stories should never see the light of day.) The only book I’d ever read about being published was an upper MG where two 12-year-olds, one an author and the other pretending to be her agent, got a book published. Adorable in kidlit. Not so adorable in practice.

But those silly stories laid the groundwork for everything I do now. 

What was your first real writing spark? What put you on that journey?

2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday — That First Writing Spark

  1. I enjoyed reading about your writer beginnings. And, I felt your middle school anguish. Words can’t really express how awful those times can be at that age. I’ve enjoyed learning about you through PitchWars and now here. I grew up in a family of readers and storytellers. It was always just natural to write stories. I’m one of those people who have drawers full of writing that has been done just because. I can’t even remember the first catalyst, but then I have a lot more years to remember than you do.

  2. I was born holding a pencil. Not really but when I was three my mom said I grabbed the book she’d been reading to me and said something like I could write a better story so I dictated it to her based on the illustrations. Once I learned to actually write, I started penning poetry and I was the loner kid too because we moved so much due to family issues. This made me always the new kid and one year we were in one place for two whole years and it was amazing but sad when I left my friends behind. I was the girl with the bad attitude, the smart-mouth, the purple hair, who had her nose in a book. I wrote because it was a way to get my feelings out. I started with poetry then moved on to short stories then novels. When I got married my then husband told me that writing was a “pipe dream” and I should have a career in something “practical.” Like an idiot, I listened and became a nurse. I still wrote though, every night and in the morning and after the divorce, my kids asked me to write down bedtime stories I made up, so I did. It was then I decided to go for this full-tilt (2003) and I haven’t stopped yet. Writing saves lives that might otherwise be lost. I totally believe that. Great post, Rae!

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