In sixth grade I met Krissy. She happened to be in love with this super-cool, totally out of her league eighth grader. To make up for the fact that they would never date and he didn’t really know her name, I wrote them a love story. It was a cheesy and dramatic saga written on a yellow legal pad. In the story, they ended up getting married. In real life, Krissy and I bonded over unrequited love and have been friends ever since.
My early teens were spent obsessing over the Beatles. Every song, every book, every poster, every record, I had as much stuff as I could get my hands on. Their simple lyrics made me sure I could write songs too. So I filled binders and binders with “songs.” Poems, really. And I spend every Christmas and birthday from the time I was twelve asking for a guitar. I just knew that if I had a guitar, I could write songs that would move people.
High school, for me, was about opposites. I played sports and had “cool” friends. But I wanted to write so I was on the newspaper staff covering hard-hitting topics like where to get the best burger for your money and how the boys’ JV basketball team did on the road last weekend. That wasn’t what the cool kids did at our school. But those were my people just as much as my teammates. I wanted to be in both worlds and typical high school hierarchy didn’t know what to do with me.
My senior year of high school I stopped asking for a guitar. I put my writing binders away and focused on boys. That year I got a guitar for Christmas, a last-ditch effort from my parents to save me from boy distractions, perhaps. It didn’t work. I never learned how to play that guitar.
In college, I picked journalism as my major but then I didn’t know what to do after that. What did that mean? What kind of job could I have? By second semester of my freshman year, I was an education major.
My undergraduate years were full of reading and writing classes. I worked full time and went to school nights and weekends, in between occasional part-time jobs. I took as many writing courses as my class load would allow. One of my professors, Jim, who had been a sports reporter for the county newspaper when I was in high school, showed me things in my writing that I couldn’t see. Things I didn’t appreciate or understand. He also told me I often wrote too casually, that I wrote how I spoke, and while that had its place, it wasn’t in his class.
In between all the classes, I was filling journals with prayers, stories, boys, worries, dreams, joys. I was writing in my spare time, when I needed a break from school writing.
I’ve always felt that I had stories to tell. Whether they were true or made up, I’ve just always had this intense desire to write things. And for so long I’ve written for no one. It wasn’t the act of someone else reading my words, but just getting the words out that was so gratifying. I blogged for almost two years before I told anyone I was writing. (Please don’t go back and read things I wrote in 2010. For the most part they are horrible.) But I was writing and that was what was important.
This year my students started telling me I should write a book. They want a young adult fiction book, obviously. They want dystopian and a love story because those go hand-in-hand. They want the passion I have for reading and recommending books to transfer onto the page so they can feel it too.
Now suddenly people are reading my writing. Lots of people. And I say “suddenly”, but there’s been nothing sudden about hours and hours spent writing and editing and sharing and connecting and learning. And if this is it for me, the pinnacle of my writing career, I’ll die happy and content. I’ll keep doing this because I need it like I need water and oxygen. It just gives me life.
In the early nineties I got a free diary with a pair of Jordache jeans. I was excited about the new jeans, obviously, but I was even more excited about the diary. I remember filling up the first few pages that night before bed. Some days, when I didn’t know what to write, I would just do a swooping, wave-like line across the spaces because I loved how great it felt to fill a page.
I still feel that way. Filling a page with words never gets old. So thanks for coming here and reading my words, it’s an honor and privilege that I don’t take lightly. And I promise to never use the swooping, wave-like line across the page if I don’t know what to write. Pinky swear.
Kim Everhart says
What a lovely post! You do have beautiful and very moving words. Thank you for sharing them!
I love your writing. Thank you for being brave and sharing your life with your words.
Thank you, Brandi. Thanks a lot. 🙂
You are a newer blog that I’ve found, and I love your writing style and all! I think for good measure, you should have a post that is just swooshing lines one day 🙂
Thanks, Katy! And I feel, during a moment of weakness (or laziness…), I might just post some lines for old time’s sake. HA.