My earliest memory of writing is sharp–it floats to mind clearly. I see a much younger version of myself. It is Kindergarten, Ms. F’s class, journal writing time. We each has one, a big black book of pristine paper on which to make our mark. I remember a boy writing out a scrambled sentence of shapes, followed by a large blue mass. A teacher’s helper came over and added a caption to his satisfaction, in neat ordered hand. It was a story about a whale. Across the room the Assistant Teacher is sitting with a boy named Josh, tape recorder in hand. He already knows how to read and she wants it on tape. I see myself telling jokes, swiveled in my chair, energy exploding everywhere, "Apples and bananaaaas!" Josh can’t stop laughing, and the teacher glares my way. I’m already seated by myself. My paper is still blank.
Another memory is from second grade. I’m writing a book report on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and my parents are floating behind me. The wide ruled paper is mostly empty, and my pencils rattle back and forth across the desk as I wait for inspiration. I remember crying — and yelling, my parents yell too. The report is finished somehow, and my final touch is an erector set conveyor belt, set up to dispense chocolates.
As I write I tend to edit, typing — delete — typing… delete. I love to craft the sentences just right, but at times the ideas fail to come. I strain, pulling what droplets I can muster from that hidden reservoir which has decided to close for the day. I see myself filling with anger, frustration, dispair. And so I do something else.
I also remember reading — long hours of hardy boys in the summertime, curled up in the cottage. Our whole family devoutly focused on our pages. I read and read. Then I’m reading in school, too. And suddenly it isn’t so much fun. And then there is the comptuer, and even video games… and the internet. So much to see, read, drink up. An infinite oasis of things to see and do and experience and take in. Yet its grip can be ruthless, and painful.
Writing to me is usually not about words, or letters, or periods or predicates. It’s about memories that fade, and ideas that float away.