This is a reaction to a prompt presented to #UIWP2012 fellow during orientation: What is your earliest memory of writing? In returning to my Drafts page on my blog, I happened upon it now in #UIWP13 and have decided to finish what I started
My evolution into a writer from being an artist is the real journey.
More than any early writing task, I better remember some of the art projects that I made as a kid. There was the Mother’s Day calendar in Catholic school — we all got a template that was later laminated and attached to a small refrigerator calendar. There were the pictires of wholesome Biblical stories (that were never tainted or critically analyzed).
My parents had certainly fed into my interest in drawing by signing me up for sketching classes held in a back room of an art supply store. Long tables were shoved together to create a monolithic hard surface. A heavily-perfumed lady was our coach. And white paneling — the kind with the hard, glossy finish split up by air pockets which seemed to let the MDF breathe from beneath the surface — lined all of the walls of the front store. Supplies hung from arms of silver coming out of those walls, putting on display all of the devices I would slowly learn to apply to different types of papers.
And much of those artistic ventures only gradually went to the pen when I began to craft my own stories in junior high. Star Wars was becoming popular again what with the release of the infamous prequels. I had taken to sketching battles of futuristic spacecraft across the backdrop of a solar system. My brother and I both did this for a number of months, often competitively (as many things are between brothers).
Perhaps these activities, too, led to a separation of our paths as kids. I always found my drawings to be messier and less symmetrical or measured to scale as his. Being two years his elder, I now debate as to whether this was a developmental shift or it was a change as a result of feeling less to a younger sibling. I nevertheless gradually lost interest in drawing and took up writing.
Junior high marked one of the first times that I was writing creatively. I remember bits and pieces of the cheesy sci-fi ventures I wrote at night in a journal that I kept in my nightstand. Where I left my brother to sketch out battles in space, I must have taken it upon myself to claim the new territory of writing about the exploration of new planets… and new life forms! (I now wonder if I would have pursued engineering like him had I had cultivated visual arts; he’s now an aerospace engineer.)
Writing activities that made up part of my junior high English curriculum must not have been notable. A poem here or there I remember turning in; the topics, however, are lost. My work caught the attention of my seventh-grade teacher who sang many praises of my writing ability to my parents. While there were times where I felt the burning glares of my peers who must have seen me as a teacher’s pet in her class, I knew then that Ms. Pettit was doing everything in her power to support my writing.
I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts a teacher who inspired me as a freshman. Mr. Brewner was always encouraging creative writing in our freshman English classroom. Every Friday, we would have a draft due, whether a short story, poem, etc.. He, I believe, is the real inspiration for me wanting to become a teacher. Brewner was the first to push me to share my writing with peers and to share it to the overall school community through Fremd’s Writers Week, a week-long celebration of literacy with guest speakers from various professions coming in to talk about their writing.
In analyzing many of these memories, there is none that stands out more than the memory of writing personalized thank-you notes to relatives or friends who had given me gifts. While not early, I find this act of writing the most memorable for me. My growth as a writer certainly stemmed from my creative imagination but some of my personal growth is a result of the writing that gave thanks to the others around me. For that, I must insist, has been the growth that truly impacts my development as a human being.