Vignettes of a Tentative Writer


Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

I am in 5th grade. I run to the mailbox. I find an envelope with writing scrawled all over the back with things like, “I Love Bucky Dent” and “Go Yankees!” and I light up knowing it’s a letter for me! It’s from my best friend, Susie Quigley. It’s my first year at a new school since we moved and Susie and I write each other regularly. She is a Yankee fan, so I follow suit. Mostly I just like writing and getting the letters. I even sign up for a pen pal through a television show called The Big Blue Marble just so I can get and receive more.

It’s the summer after 6th grade and my neighborhood friend who is a few years older and I are looking for something to do.  We decide to start a news magazine. We hand-write our stories in columns to make sure it looks like a magazine, and make drawings where the photos would go. We decide we’ll make it a monthly magazine. After agonizing over a name, we finally decide on S*I*S which stands for Stuff In Sussex. We make photocopies and proudly hand them out to a few neighbors. Despite trying to generate interest in our magazine by promising an interview with the mayor in our next issue, we only ever create one.

I am freshman in high school. A guy named George just broke my heart and I pour my heart out onto paper in the form of bad teenage angst poetry. My father finds it and reads it and then tries to talk to me about it. I am embarrassed beyond belief. But I continue my dark decent into rhyming couplets and quatrains.

I am a senior in high school and take a creative writing class.  The assignment: Write a short story with all its components—conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution—that occurs in the time span of five minutes or less.  I write a story about an adopted girl waiting to meet her birth mother for the first time.

I am a college freshmen and living with my grandparents. I am extremely lonely and re-kindle my love of writing by penning regular letters to no less than ten of my high school friends who have gone away to college.

I am a new college student and hopeful journalism student.  An editing class I am taking requires that we write an article for the college paper. I cover a seminar about a newly discovered epidemic called AIDS. The seminar is meant to provide information and dispel myths and misconceptions and to promote safe sex among the college crowd. I am proud of the job I do on my first “published” work, but depression and lack of confidence keep me from doing any more work for the paper.

I am a junior in college and take an upper level writing class. We write mostly personal essays and I am the most prolific I have ever been, excited about each assignment. I write about my grandmother who had recently passed away. I write about my sisters. I write a pro-hunting piece that my dad likes and mails into a hunting newsletter he subscribes to. They print it, but the byline has my name spelled wrong.

I am a 5th grade teacher at a small school where a creative writing specialist comes in to run workshops for all the students. I sit in and write with the students. I write a piece about my Friendly’s waitress uniform and share it with my students. They surprise me by making me “student of the week” at our weekly Friday assembly.

I am 44 years old and unpacking the contents of my office space. I marvel at my journals and snippets of paper. I hold the words I have written, the ideas I have danced with, the unfinished ideas and poetry and prose, the musings of my life. I think, This is what I must do.



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