Written by, Samantha Martin
I have a very distinct memory in my head about not being able to write, but wanting to tell stories. I loved how words could conjure up images, and I liked being able to invent whatever I wanted to happen next. I was young, barely able to grasp the idea of writing my own name, and completely incapable of writing out the epics in my head. I used to dictate stories to my mother, and she would write them down and let me illustrate these things; marker-scribbled cat people was the first story I ever “wrote”. I am pretty sure that it was a cat person princess with a dalmatian dog as a pet, but I digress.
I remember being in the car one day, waiting on my mother to get off work. She was taking some time with a meeting, and to this day I have no idea why my mother’s friend was waiting for her with us in the car. It could be because of the fact that when my mother had left my sister alone in the car without an adult supervising, my sister had managed to pepperspray herself in the face –twice– but that is a story for another time.
I was in the back seat, probably in fifth or sixth grade at this point. I was busy writing in my notebooks, like usual, and I remember my sister being beside me with her head out the car window as we waited by the field of the elementary school my mom works at. My mother’s friend, let’s call her Jane, noticed my notebook and had something to say.
“What are you doing? Homework?” Jane asked from the front seat. I didn’t look up, I just shook my head. “What, then?”
“I’m writing,” I said, then kept going.
“What, like, for fun?” I nodded at her question. She scoffed “Why?”
“I see movies in my head,” I said without thinking, “and I want people to see those movies, too.” I looked up into the rear-view mirror in time to see Jane burst into a fit of laughter.
“That is ridiculous,” she said, giggling to herself. “Why don’t you just do your homework?” This sent her into another cackle. I shut my notebook and waited for my mother in silence alongside my sister, my cheeks burning in quiet embarrassment.
My mom, after we got home, seemed to know something was weird. I wasn’t talking and I finished up my homework in silence. I didn’t get out my writing books. I don’t know how she knew I was brooding, but she knew. She took me into the play room, where our Windows ’98 desktop computer sat with its ivory plastic bright in the sunlight, and showed me how to pull up a word document and save it. I was a bit annoyed until she explained.
“You can write your stories here, if you want to,” my mother said with a smile. I looked at her. Seriously? Here? I didn’t know how to type. But I was allowed, given permission, and I’d seen people typing on TV super fast and liked the sound of the keys. I made up my mind: I wanted to try.
When I first tried typing instead of hand writing, it was exhausting having to look down at my fingers and then up at the screen to make sure that I was writing the right way. I had to constantly spell things in my mind and search, but then somehow… it changed. It got easier. I started to type without looking, without constantly hitting the backspace. I had no idea when it had happened. Sure, I developed some bad habits. I hate how my pinkies never seemed to do anything useful. I still can’t use the home keys properly. But somehow, I kept on writing, and by the time I was in high school I could type without even looking at the keys once.
I am reflecting on this memory because November has been a month with so much typing for me, for all of us who use digital forms of story notebooks to store our ideas. I think back to when I first started realizing that I could stream my thoughts into words onto the screen, about how amazing it was! I could’ve listened to Jane, been embarrassed, and given up. We all have Janes in our lives, Janes we could choose to listen to. Instead of caving and just doing my homework, I kept going. Instead of letting one adult’s ridicule get to me, I found a new medium to write in. Instead of making fun of myself, I surrounded myself with people who wanted to read my work and see the movies I saw in my head.
And now I can type 110WPM with no mistakes, on top of writing for fun. And yeah, Jane, that is ridiculous!
Do you have a particular memory of writing when you were younger? Do you recall the point where you decided you were going to finally finish that story? We want to read about it! Send your poems, prose, or essays about your inspirations to firstname.lastname@example.org!