The last time I called myself a writer was in the 90s. I was in grade school, still years away from my first self-deprecating joke. I had no self-consciousness in writing, and if I suffered from delusions of grandeur, it was because grandeur was my default state of mind. I called myself a writer - an author, actually - because writing itself was fun and I liked doing it. There was never any endpoint that I felt I needed to reach when writing, and I felt no compunction about putting down a project that I had gotten bored of or outgrown. Nor did I suffer under the anxiety of influence, nor the fear of rejection. I wrote with joy, and I wrote with abandon. There was always space for what I had to write; blank journals gifted to me on birthdays past always lay in wait for whatever I might have to say. I wrote by hand, and I wrote on a 1992 Macintosh computer, the first our family owned. During my Harriet The Spy phase, I scribbled covertly in a black-and-white composition book while eavesdropping on my brother's violin lessons. That particular notebook is one I really hope to find in a box in my dad's basement someday. The act of writing, in whatever form, made me feel like a version of myself I liked and enjoyed being.
In the days when I loved writing, my audience was me. Delight was the only requirement, and the primary goal. Many of the early works would now be described as Pippi Longstocking fanfiction. I particularly enjoyed typing such crushingly brilliant sentences as “for the next two hours, the three children worked” into KidPix and listening to the stilted male voice of the word processor read them back to me. I was beginning to understand the basic prerequisites of narrative content: exposition, conflict, resolution, and I could create all three with considerable ease and enthusiasm inside the parameters of a fictional world that I already knew and loved. I had read every word Astrid Lindgren had written about Pippi, Annika and Tommy, and I wanted more; by writing about them, I got to just be with them for a little longer.
Twenty-five years later, I want to write again. Though I never actually stopped wanting to write, I have quietly convinced myself that I can’t write until I have something to say that I know beyond any doubt will be important and unassailable. I understand now that there is no world in which I will write 100% things that are important and unassailable – I will either write at least some things that are unimportant and/or wrong, or I will not write anything. I probably always understood this on some level, and without even really considering it, I just decided that the risk I would take by being unimportant or wrong was too great. Part of what I want access from the writer of my childhood is the willingness to just write without giving a fuck. If I can do that, frequently, then maybe I can to back to being a person who just writes to write – good, bad, and meh. I want to write again because at its best, writing is fun and joyful. Bad writing is everywhere, some of it mine, but good writing is everywhere, too, and some of that is also mine.
One thing I look forward to doing in this space is revisiting my childhood works, in part because I want to get inside the head of a person who writes without giving a fuck. All of what I have described is completely from memory; I know that hard copies of some of these things exist, but I haven't seen them in decades. The memories that I have contain little, if any, of the actual content of my writing - they are of writing itself, the thrill it used to give me, the way it made time disappear. I am hopeful that the joy and some of the recklessness of just writing can be re-learned.
Note: If you are reading this and you are in possession of anything you wrote or created as a child, I would love to see it or hear about it. Please submit in the comments or through my contact page!