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Writing memory lane

May 15, 2011

Some authors have been writing since they learnt which end of the pencil to hold to the paper while others discovered that they had stories to tell much later in life. Here’s a small cruise down my personal memory lane.

Printouts, notebooks and my netbook. The pile includes the original handwritten manuscript for a story I wrote in 1992.

I can’t imagine not having stories and the people in them in my head. For as long as I can remember, I have made up stories and had characters that fit into them. When I played with my toys, I orchestrated storylines. Every anthropomorphic toy (action figure, teddy bear or doll) had a name and a personality and could act out stories with the other toys.

The first story I ever wrote down was in second grade as far as I recall. It was a page or two long and I had so much fun with it that I wrote a sequel too. They were pretty simple, but they did have characters, dialogue and a plot of sorts. I started several stories and finished some of them over the next few years. Some were semi-autobiographical and about pets that I had while others included plot elements such as timetravel and aliens.

At the age of 11, the kids around me seemed to decide more or less simultaneously that playing was really for small children. They would rather “hang out” than “play”. But I wasn’t done playing. I doubt I ever will be (I hope I won’t ever be!), but I certainly wasn’t then.Β The games we had played had had complex storylines for a while then. Sometimes we wrote down what had happened because there was so much going on that we wouldn’t always remember where we had left off.
So my solution to the other kids not wanting to play so much anymore was to find another outlet for what was essentially making up stories. I began to write them down. True, I had been writing that all along, but only very short stories. Now I wanted to write longer and more detailed tales with more characters. I dreamt of writing real books someday. Inspired by my favourite films and books, I rolled up my metaphorical sleeves and began.
At first the stories were handwritten. Then I borrowed my dad’s computer and got my very own floppy disk for storing my works in progress. When I had finished a story, I would print it out and make a cover for it.

Later, of course, I got my own computer. I read a lot too, and at one point (I think I was 14) I was annoyed with the local library for not having enough books of the kind that I wanted to read (science fiction and fantasy mainly). Well then, I would just have to write what I wanted to read myself, wouldn’t I?
Eventually came the internet. I discovered various online venues where it was possible to share my writing with others internationally. This was also part of the reason I began writing in English.

At one point I almost ceased to write. The stories and Β the people in them were still there, but I focused on other creative outlets instead. I did a lot academic writing, essays and theses, but I discovered that I missed writing stories. It is the best way for me to “play”. Over the next years, writing became a bigger part of my life again. I haven’t ever run out of stories, and with the pile of ideas I have in front of me, it doesn’t seem likely to happen. I started to bring a notebook with me every time I took the train and began my longest story so far on one of those rides, I met others who liked writing, joined a writing group, began participating in NaNoWriMo, and now … well, then I became a chronicler of my own fiction writing ventures with this blog.

What about you? Have you always dreamt of being a writer? Did you suddenly decide to write a book, or did you get an idea for a story, or have they always been there?
-Please take us for a trip down your writing memory lane.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    May 15, 2011 6:16 pm

    Your story is a lot like mine. When I was a kid, all my stuffed animals and action figures would have pretty in-depth personalities and I’d act out stories I had invented with them. I must have been in 4th or 5th grade when I wrote one of my stories down on paper. I made myself write a page per day until the story was finished. Then in 7th grade, I started writing stories on the computer. I had a pretty funny one almost completely finished, but the hard drive erased it and I never saw it again. 😦 But I’ve never stopped writing since then… and I never will.


    • May 15, 2011 7:39 pm

      It does indeed sound familiar. πŸ™‚ It sounds like you were (and still are) really dedicated! It is so frustrating with stories that disappear. I’ve had a few of those, but I quickly learnt the joy of backing up.

      Thank you for sharing your story! πŸ™‚


  2. May 15, 2011 11:20 pm

    I started “writing” stories before I could read or even draw letters on paper. I dictated them to my mother and she transcribed them for me. I don’t remember doing this, but I’ve read the “stories” my 2-year old brain thought up- action-driven microfiction focusing on bathroom activities. lol

    As soon as I learned to read, I read whatever was available- children’s books, adult’s books, magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes . . In elementary school, I read a short story of mine in front of my class, and after school, a classmate told me he really liked it. I was amazed. I think the “writer” idea started then, but mostly as a thought in the back of my mind. But I found school more boring and mind-numbing than fun, and if I didn’t want to participate in something (homework, tests, activities) I simply didn’t. But I did have some encouraging moments. In middle school, a teacher nominated me for a writing competition and workshop. (Both turned out to be more work than I had imagined. lol) In college, I felt the same way I did in high school. I hated having structure imposed on me from somebody else, and I ended up skipping class more than attending. I was a “problem” student. It wasn’t until after college that I thought about writing again, and I started writing poetry. I joined a poetry group and we eventually became locally well-known (think berets and coffee house poetry readings). We even started an annual poetry and art festival which drew people from surrounding counties.

    Then I got married and moved far away from my group, and I took another break from writing. When I started up again, it was non-fiction- a brief stint as fashion and lifestyle writer for an alternative online newspaper.

    Some time after that (not good with time quantities) a complete story arc popped into my mind unbeckoned. Then I finally decided to become a “serious novelist.”

    And that is how I ended up here. πŸ™‚


    • May 15, 2011 11:22 pm

      Whoa! I think my comment is as long as your post- sorry!


      • May 16, 2011 12:41 pm

        Please don’t apologise! I enjoyed your long comment! πŸ™‚ I really like having these kind of conversations with other writers.
        The stories you “wrote” at the age of two put a big smile on my face. I recalled my mum making up stories for me at an early age, and I would then continue them.
        The poetry group sounds wonderful.
        – And I’m glad you ended up here despite the various necessary detours that life brings along. πŸ™‚


        • May 16, 2011 5:18 pm

          Yes, “the various necessary detours” . . Seems through incredible luck and astounding stubbornness I’ve managed to create a writer’s life for myself, by my own definition. πŸ™‚

          I’m glad your enjoyed reading about it. πŸ™‚


          • May 17, 2011 9:11 am

            I think it takes some luck and stubbornness to follow any creative dream. πŸ™‚


  3. May 16, 2011 4:59 am

    Interesting post…and interesting comments!

    My mom says that when I was too young to write, I would hand her a picture and launch into 15 minutes of backstory, so I guess I’ve been creating stories since before I could write.

    Once I did learn to write, I wrote and illustrated stories. I remember one about a goblin searching for peace and quiet that included a glossary.

    In middle school, I tried my hand at creative non-fiction and chronicled the goings on of my eighth grade class. That was read aloud to, uh, mixed reviews.

    Continued to write through high school, majored in creative writing in college, found a job that required writing, and still write in my down time.

    I’ve always written with an eye to publish someday. However, I’m also incredibly lazy. Those sides are constantly at odds, so my writing ebbs and flows. There are times that I wish I had more of an A personality.

    One day my lazy side will be conquered!


    • May 16, 2011 12:45 pm

      Thank you – and I agree, interesting comments. Thank you for adding your own story. πŸ™‚
      Goblin, eh? I had a troll in a story. He was adequately named “Troll”. πŸ˜‰
      I’ve thought about publishing for a long time, as well. But as I am ultimatley writing because I want to/need to, it is not imperative. The most important thing is to write when we feel like it, I think.


  4. May 18, 2011 5:14 am

    My mother likes to tell the story of seeing me sitting alone on the couch one day. I was about 4 or 5. Since I am a 5th child and 4 years younger than my closest sibling, I was often left behind to fend for myself, and on this day, my mother took pity on me and came over to play a game with me. Apparently, I told her to go away because I was “making up stories.”

    I don’t remember this, but it certainly sounds about right. I’ve always been in my head, spinning yarns. My childhood friend was Charlie the Cloud, and I would tell my mother what he and his family were doing that day.

    Having said that, I don’t feel like I have stories to tell. Or maybe I do but have been disappointed that my attempts to write fiction have resulted in very mediocre work. More practice? More nourishing of my creative side? I’m not sure.

    What I’ve been finding, however, is that I may not have stories, but I have ideas, and so I am now focusing on non-fiction and so far, it feels right. And that also seems in keeping with my childhood dreams of writing. The first book I ever wanted to write was a biography of my ‘grandmother’ (who wasn’t technically related to me, but played the role in the absence of my biological grandmother who lived in Portugal).

    That early passion for writing has always been with me, but dormant for a long time. My blog is the result of its long-overdue awakening, and is hopefully just the start! πŸ™‚


    • May 19, 2011 9:09 am

      That is such a sweet story! And it seems familiar – I recall being able to entertain myself with the stories in my head a lot when I was a child.

      It’s great to hear that your passion for writing has been re-awakened! I used to only write fiction for some time, but (well, obviously – I have a blog now) I’ve started really enjoying non-fiction writing again. I personally need to write stories, but I can relate to needing to write without it necessarily having to be fiction now as well.

      Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚


  5. May 18, 2011 5:16 am

    (Forgot to include that I was 14 when I wanted to write that biography.)


  6. May 22, 2011 4:16 pm

    The handwritten manuscript. Is that the one with the D. Hard main character? 8D


    • May 22, 2011 4:19 pm

      Incidentally, yes it is. I wrote stories before that, but it was my first “long” one.
      Thank you for visiting! πŸ™‚


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