When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Van Gogh - I would spend hours at my grandmother's house attempting to draw the pictures and scenes in my head - images that I'd dreamt of, and just knew I had to put on paper.
And I always found myself disappointed when I held them up in front of the light and found that they were just slightly less than exceptional. So disappointed that I'd crumple them up, the way I imagined a frustrated artist would, and throw them on the ground as soon as I saw the slightest mistake. Erasers, apparently, weren't good enough for a 5-year-old artist.
Eventually, I'd give up on my obvious masterpiece and instead, I'd write stories on the same blank sheets of paper that my grandmother had handed me to create a work of art on. This - writing - was what I fell back on without even realizing it.
I can vividly remember writing a "novel" titled Revenge after noticing how many murder mystery novels my grandmom had on her bookshelf. It's a bit fuzzy now, but I think my plot idea was that someone had committed murder, and then framed his friend. The friend, of course, found out and was seeking revenge. I know...I should probably pitch the idea to Hollywood; it's obviously genius.
I always remember my first poem as being one I wrote when I was about 10 years old at the beach one summer - my parents and brother in another room, my grandmom on the couch next to me. We'd probably abandoned another game of Monopoly after my grandmom caught my mom helping me cheat, and was too angry to continue.
In the summer
We have fun
In the sun
And when we are dun**
We keep cool
In the pool
By the shade
With a glass of lemonade.
**and yes, I spelt done that way. My grandmother, horrified at the use of the word, may have taken a moment to teach me the difference between done and dun after that.
Also, yes - I remember that poem by heart. You know, I'm just practicing for one day when I'm asked to recite it in front of an adoring crowd. Any day now, right?
As I got older, the writing never really stopped. In middle school, I kept a notebook of my poems that I would hand off to friends, asking them to tell me what they thought; I may have been many things - modest or shy about my writing however, were never qualities of mine (which makes this whole blogging thing really weird, right?)
At the end of middle school and through the beginning of high-school, the writing got more depressing - more about tears and the moon than about sunshine and cherry pie. But it never stopped me. I found friends who wrote similarly, and we compared poetry in study hall (I really wish I were kidding), eventually gathering the courage - a couple months into freshman year - to approach the Spanish teacher in charge of the school's literary magazine (which, minus us, had about three members).
All through high-school, I kept several notebooks of my writing, and each time I go home for a weekend now I dig them out of my drawers to read a few that I'm not completely ashamed of having written. There are poems in there I wrote for English classes - ones that my teacher junior year told me he was proud of, and ones that caused my Journalism teacher to tell me I was one of the most talented writers he'd taught (something that I guess wasn't terribly difficult to do in my school, but at the time it made me smile for days).
Going into my senior year of college, I constantly tell people who ask that I'd like to write for a magazine eventually. That I'll start out at a small newspaper, and hopefully work my way up. And I would like that. Actually - I'd love it more than anything. But even as I say it, I worry that I'll never be good enough for that - that my writing just isn't that good.
And maybe, probably, it's not. But writing is the one thing I've always done - even when I wanted to be Van Gogh, a lawyer, a psychiatrist - I never stopped writing. Even if I'm not good enough, doesn't it make more sense to do what I want to and to work like hell so that maybe, one day, I will be good enough?