When I was little I wrote ALL the time. I wrote stories about cats (named for my second grade teacher), hermit crabs (a class pet), mice, and sisters who explored together and saved the day (in one story they located a missing Santa Claus). I illustrated the stories too. Sometimes I'd create the book cover and table of contents (my early way of outlining??), write one or two pages, and then never pick it up again (this is what happened to a chapter book I was writing about a mouse who lived in the Statue of Liberty). Sometimes I'd write and illustrate newspapers with headlines that appealed to me and forecasts for the weather on Mulberry Street, where I lived. In high school I started writing terrible, overly dramatic poetry--typical teenager stuff about broken hearts (the heartbreaker changed weekly) and backstabbing best friends. I also ended up with a typewriter sometime around then, not an old fashioned one, but the keys still made a very satisfying click when punched. I loved typing and loved the clickety-clack of the keys as they gave under the pressure of my fingertips. I would sit on my bed and listen to Tori Amos, Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, Liz Phair, etc. and type the lyrics that appealed to me at that moment: "I tell you they're pieces of me you've never seen...". I have whole pages of lyrics mashed up from various songs.
I kept a journal too, one that I started when in 1985 when I was 5. Each evening (for a few weeks--this didn't last long, and the next time I picked it up was when I was old enough to write for myself) I would sit with my mom and dictate my entry while she wrote in her neat and bubbly handwriting. I wrote about my dog (Tinkerbell), about visiting my friend Emily, and about my daddy coming home from various bus trips (he drove).
I still have all of this stuff--the journal, every story I ever wrote, all the stories, all the journals (there must be 15), all the awful poems, some of the pages of typed lyrics, even all the essays I wrote in school. I was telling Hannah about my childhood story-writing habit a few weeks ago and she wanted to see them, so Eric dug that box out of the crawl space, and I read some of my stories to Hannah, and of course, then she wanted to write a story, so she dictated to me. Here's her first story:
Once there was a cat. She jumped over the moon because her other friend cats couldn't play music then. And then the cow decided to say, "Cat, can your friends play fiddle when you jump over the moon?" And the cat said, "No. Well, do you want to play with me cow?" And the cow said, "Yes please." And they all played together.
I love it. I found an empty journal I had bought on sale from Target forever ago, and we started a journal that night. She mostly just made lists of the things she liked, and sometimes those lists were based on things she saw when she looked around her room. We haven't written in it for a few weeks (something about the summer makes it hard to get upstairs to bed on time), but I'm looking forward to picking it up again and am wondering if she'll develop a love of writing like her mama and her mama's mama or if she'll stick with painting and drawing or pick up something else entirely. Given her pension for being the center of attention, I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up being drawn to the stage. This little star performer needs a spotlight!