Here are my answers to the questions in the challenge:
- Which books did you love growing up? Which poems?
I’ve loved books for a long time, so this is a really hard question to answer. The first ones I can remember enjoying are things like PJ Funny Bunny, Wayside School is Falling Down, and Mr. Putty & Tabby Pour the Tea (that one can still make me tear up). Once I moved on to longer books, I devoured ones like Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Black Beauty. I remember having a membership with the Babysitters Club books and I’d get four every month, only to have read them within the weekend.
But then, in fifth grade I was given The Hobbit by my grandparents. I assumed it would be dull, but having nothing else to read, I gave it a shot…and hated it. I was so bored. But then, I don’t remember why, maybe it was a stormy day or something, my mom decided to read some of it to me and my siblings. She got past the part that had bored me so much, and I fell in love with it. My dad, hearing about how much I loved it, said “You know there’s a sequel, don’t you?” And soon enough he bought me The Lord of the Rings for my birthday. The Lord of the Rings became an obsession of mine that lasted for a long time, so much so that my friend group all had nicknames from the book (I know what you are you thinking, and you’re right, we were the popular ones). From middle school to high school, if it didn’t have some sort of magical element in it, I wouldn’t touch it. DragonLance, Harry Potter, The Sword of Truth…the list goes on.
It wasn’t until college that I started voluntarily reading outside of the fantasy genre. To say something in that genre resonated with me is an understatement.
Not many poems did the same. I can only think of one of the top of my head – “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden. I read it for the first time in high school. It really struck me, and I’ve never forgotten it. Other poems I liked were fantastical, that I mainly liked for the story, and less for the images and thoughts they provoked. I didn’t really understand poetry or like it all that much until college, either (not that I understand all of it now, but you get what I’m saying).
- Do you remember your first original composition? What was it? How did you feel while writing it?
The very first one that I remember was also in fifth grade (I didn’t realize how big of a year that was for me until now). It was a parody picture-book story for school. Mine was The Little Engine That Couldn’t. I’ve always been such an optimist.
The first things I remember writing for the fun of it, with no school assignment involved, were a newspaper bulletin with my friend, and the start of a novel. I can’t remember which I did first, but they were both in high school. The newspaper bulletin was a bunch of silly stories and fake news I made up with my friend under the names of the blue wizards in The Lord of the Rings, Alatar and Pallando. I don’t think we made more than two or three, but our friends enjoyed them, and they were really fun to write. I wish I had a copy so I could read it now.
My novel eventually petered out like a lot of my writing projects due – due to a lack of confidence and a lack of plot. It helped that two of my other friends were also writing books, so we would pass them around and edit for each other. Only one of us actually finished their book though.
- Did you secret your writing away or share it with family and friends?
I know in the answer above I talk about sharing both the projects, but that isn’t the norm for me now. Usually it was secret, or at least, not shared. Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in it. Also, if I know a certain person might read it, I tend to edit myself with that person in mind. So that’s why at first I wanted to blog with no one I know in real life aware that I was writing a blog, until I could establish it a little more and gain a little confidence. Now a few know about my blog, but a lot of others don’t, or don’t know where to find it. It’s more comfortable for me now, but not so much that I’d ever post it on Facebook. Most people who know me still probably haven’t read many, if any, of my stories or poems. I don’t usually volunteer my work to people I know. Usually it’s only if they ask specifically, or if I really need an editor for something.
But a lot of people in my life either know my lack of confidence and don’t want to push me, or are not interested in reading it, because not many ask or seem to want to know more. It could also be that we’re both afraid. They’d be afraid they wouldn’t like what I write and not be able to tell me I’m bad, and I’d be afraid of, well, pretty much the same thing. That they’d think my writing is awful but be too close to tell me, and I’d always be wondering what they really think.
For fiction, that self-editing part is huge though. That’s one reason it’s probably better for me to write stories alone first. I hate that I do it, but I’ve tried to remain unobtrusive and unoffensive much of my life, and I’m usually concerned about if it’ll hurt the other person or if it will make them think less of me. That is is a horrible way to think for a writer! And maybe about life in general. It’s something I’m trying to overcome, but I haven’t fully yet. So unless it’s a collaborative project or one that will be more of a trade thing (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours), it’s probably better if I fly solo for the first draft. Hopefully some day I can get past that, because I miss my writing classes and sharing with fellow writers. It also feels like I’m keeping a secret from loved ones.
- What sort of writing do you enjoy doing best? Fiction? Nonfiction? Creative Nonfiction? Poetry? Memoir? Other?
All of it, it really depends on my mood. Memoir’s probably the hardest for me though. If I had to choose, it would probably be fiction or non-fiction. I really enjoy writing stories (when I have a plot), but I also enjoy writing in this blog and forming a dialogue. A class in college helped me develop a liking for poetry as well.
- What are your writerly aspirations? Do you write for yourself, or to become published?
Both. My dream is to be a writer, so I’d love to be published. But it’s not the main purpose that motivates me to write.
- Why do you write?
I think I answered a lot of this in another post, but in short, it’s a way for me to make sense of the world, to see its beauty again for myself, and simply, its a way for me to not go crazy. It’s a way for me to deal with the bad stuff. It’s just something I have to do.
- What keeps you writing?
The knowledge that each paragraph I write makes me the teensiest bit a better writer, no matter what the format. Sometimes I go for a long time without writing, but part of me always misses it. Eventually I come crawling back and feel all the better for it. I’ve been one of those people who says they want to be a writer but then never actually writes…I’m doing my best to change that.
- Do you have a daily writing practice? Tell us about it.
I wish I had a better habit for daily writing practice, but it’s something I’m still working on. I use Habit RPG, and lately that’s been keeping me on task. Currently my goal is just to write something every day, that’s not for someone else, and is not required. I don’t have a time or genre limit. It’s working for the most part. Sometimes I cheat and only write a few sentences…but the majority of the time I do write something of substance (okay, at least a paragraph). But that’s better than what it used to be – binge writing. Nothing for two months and then one day for four hours straight.
In the future I plan to add time restrictions on myself, but for now, I just need to make sure I write something.
Mostly I’m glad that, after years and years of forced essays to the point where I was beginning to think I hate writing, I again discovered the joy of it.