In elementary school, it was important to my teacher that we students learn to tell a story. I remember learning to fold multiple pieces of printer paper, staple them down the middle, and create a booklet. Inside this booklet, on the bottom half of each page, we were instructed to write a short story about something we enjoyed and to draw a picture of each page’s contents along the top half. I very specifically remember the colors I used (waxy pinks and reds, greens and yellows, blues galore) and how awkward the big crayons felt in my small hands and how terrible I was at drawing dogs and stick-people. Yet, this was my beginning in the writing world. I wrote stories mostly about my dogs and about my family: antics we would all get up to. How funny it was to watch the little, mostly-hairless white one run around the backyard and the bigger, fluffier, matronly tan and white Cocker Spaniel tailing after him.
From there, I would spend the next twenty years writing what I was supposed to write: essays, book reports, mid-terms, and finals. Somewhere along the way, though, I kept needing to write my own stories. Like my mother, I kept logs of our family vacations in pretty little journals. I would write fan-fiction as a teenager when I wasn’t satisfied with how the book, TV show, or movie played out. I kept a personal diary. I began writing more and more intricate status updates on social media, telling more stories of my personal life, except this time I would leave myself open for others’ opinions. I’ve never been a fan of the minute-by-minute update and generally only say something if it’s worth saying.
One thing that has stayed with me my whole life is my need to tell a story. It feels so good to write everything down and know I can go back and look at it later if I wish. When I write my travel diaries, it makes me happy as I’m writing them because it’s like experiencing the events all over again as I dig and pull specific details out of my mind to flesh out the pages. Later, it’s fun to go back and read again once I’m home and thinking of the more fun times.
I think writing has been in my blood the whole time. When my grade school teacher showed us how to communicate those small parts of ourselves, she truly lit a spark. That little spark has lived in my heart ever since and only now am I honestly allowing it to fan into flame.