Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ink me, baby

Plan for 2008: a new tattoo and a book. The former being a little easier to accomplish than the latter.

My roots are in writing. In second grade, my teacher assigned us each to write a short story. When we were through, the teacher's aides printed the stories on thick white paper and bound the pages with a piece of cardboard covered in contact paper. We were authors. And I was in love.

Most of the kids in my class wrote and "published" the one assigned story. I did something like 15. I wrote about the birth of my baby brother, class field trips and mice that liked to eat peanut butter and jelly. I wrote whatever came to mind. When I wasn't talking, I was writing. I had a lot to say. I continued writing throughout elementary school, but no longer had the teacher's aides to publish me.

My writing style changed with the books I was reading. When other kids my age were reading the 50-page books from the Goosebumps series, I was reading R.L. Stine's older books about whirlpools of death and haunted beach houses. So I wrote my first horror story. I quickly figured out that I was not the next Stephen King.

Around fifth or sixth grade, I began reading Lurlene McDaniel, who wrote books about dying teenagers. Apparently even the perkiest eleven year old has a morbid streak. I recall writing a story about a pretty cheerleader who was diagnosed with leukemia. I also began another about neighbors who were in a car accident on Christmas eve.

When I entered junior high, and my soap opera phase, I wrote myself into scenes on All My Children. Then I acted them out in my bedroom. I thought I was going to win an Emmy.

I always liked naming my characters best. They had to have the perfect name. Some of my characters would go for days without a name. Which was difficult when you're writing everything by hand. I gave the heroes/heroines names I liked. By extension, my villains got less than exciting names like Jim. Not that there's anything wrong with Jim. I named the girl with leukemia Kimberlyn. The kids in the accident were Blake and Brandon. I thought Blake and Brandon sounded sophisticated. It was obvious (at least to me) that they lived in nice houses in the suburbs in with loving parents.

Lately I've been reading memoirs. I don't think I'm prepared to write a memoir. I probably need many more years of therapy before I could do that. But it is easiest to write what I know. And I know me. I could write about my wild summer in college when I was completely in love with a married guy. Or about my tumultuous relationship with my former roommate. My therapist loves that one...

Or maybe inspiration comes in 2008. The year of ink.

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