Once upon a time, I was a prolific writer. I was creative and unhindered. I was in the 6th grade.
I started to write a math textbook in the 3rd grade. I was very good at the speed drills, and I didn’t think my book had enough of them. I would make an even better book that just had speed drills! My teacher and my parents were so supportive and encouraging.
By the 4th grade, I had sent my first book off to be published. My grandma had the book “Kick, Pass, and Run,” and while I loved it, I could imagine a better story. One where I was the protagonist. I wrote a story (that was suspiciously similar to “Kick, Pass, And Run”) about a baseball team (which was very much like my Little League team), and I illustrated it myself. Since this coloring project was so well-received within my family, I decided to send it to the only publisher I could think of. The publisher’s address was in the front of the encyclopedia.
The publisher had sent me a thank you note for the story. It turns out that this publisher only published encyclopedias, so they wouldn’t be able to publish my story. The publisher sent me a nice letter thanking me for my story and wishing me luck as a future writer. Everyone made such a big deal out of it, and looking back, I guess it was a big deal. I loved learning, and I loved writing. There wasn’t much else I would rather do, and I think that’s not very common.
The problem is that you grow a lot as a writer between the 4th and 6th grades. I was so proud of the book, and I showed it to everyone. And then I reread it. As a 6th grader. I remember feeling shame that the story was just some lame fantasy about my little league team winning a game, and I realized that the book wasn’t really a book–just a kid’s scribbles. I have had the most brutal internal censor ever since.
I have been afraid to expose my beliefs and my feelings in writing. I don’t even like to be recorded on a voicemail message. I am afraid that I will grow and that the artifact will remind me of how small I once was. I have finally grown bigger than those fears though, and I am starting the journey to find my voice as a writer. I hope to grow quickly, and I hope to look back at how much bigger I am than I was in this post soon.