My First Writing. Ever.
I know, I know. I had a Hello Kitty diary.The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for me as I’ve grappled with the emotional chaos of selling a book, adjusted to my new schedule, and begun to tackle the process of revising my debut novel. I took some advice from a friend and set up a writing room, a sacred place where I can invoke the muse without distraction. As I was moving my books around (mostly battered Dragonlance and Heinlein paperbacks), I came across a cache of old journals–including my first-ever diary: a red, vinyl-covered volume bearing the image of Hello Kitty and her mouse companion on some kind of mustard-yellow motorized scooter. I remember wanting this particular diary not for the cartoon cat, but because it had a secure-looking brass lock, something that could protect my darkest secrets from prying eyes. I remember being totally unconcerned that others might make fun of me, an eight-and-a-half-year-old boy, for owning a Hello Kitty diary. I’d like to claim bravery, but it was more likely naiveté. Kudos to my free-thinking parents, though, for letting me have it. And, in any case, at some point I lost the key and had to cut the feeble vinyl strap that held the diary closed. So, secrecy be damned, I’m going to share what I found when I cracked it open.
First entry: Tuesday, Dec 4
My girlfriend is…well, no one. I guess. Today, my teacher yelled at me today [sic] because I was not doing well in art. I’m in room 201, and my teacher’s name is [REDACTED]. She’s nice most of the time. Right now I live at [REDACTED]. I’m eight-and-a-half. My favorite subjects [in] school are Language, Spelling and Phonics. My favorite movie is Ghostbusters. I made Citizenship last quarter! I’m a Bobcat Cub Scout. I’ve got one yellow bead!Beneath this entry I drew a poorly rendered stick figure with a cartoon speech bubble exclaiming, “Hi!” I won’t include it here, but let’s just say it’s clear why I wasn’t “doing well in art.” And yet, within my entry, I had managed to hyphenate my age and capitalize all the proper nouns. It seems to me that, even at age eight and a half, my path was emerging before me.
But wait, it gets better.My subsequent entry, dated three days later, is worth sharing as well. It is the first of several dozen song lyrics I have composed over the years:
Once you get a big idea, you’ve got to follow through Oh, Oh, Oh! You’ve got to! No turnin’ back now, boy! Oh, oh, oh! It’s not a toy!Ironically, I did not follow through; at least, not right away. I left the diary blank for almost a year, picking it up again the following November:
(Cont’d 28 of November Sunny)
No one can control you, ‘Cause only you know what to do
Who Do You Want To Be?I got emotional as I turned the pages, realizing that I had known myself better at age eight than I had through my teens, twenties, and early thirties. In my first-ever blog post–my adult diary of sorts–I recalled taking out a blank sheet of paper and making a list of all the things I had ever wanted to be when I grew up. Novelist was one of those things, and now I’m beginning to live that dream–but more importantly, I’m honoring a part of myself that I have been keeping on the sidelines for most of my life. I am going back to what I loved. Not what I wanted to be, but who I have always been. That eight-year-old boy knew what I loved, and was as unconcerned about the challenges of a life in the arts as he was about being teased for his red Hello Kitty diary. I admire that kid. I shall try to live up to his hope.
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