When the Words Came

Hello my darlings!

I love books. (Duh.)

I’ve always loved them. The story in my family goes that when I was three-years-old I strutted up to my  preschool teacher, told her I could spell salad, and then did exactly that. After some questioning by said teacher, it appeared I had taught myself to read.

Because WORDS.

I mean, could you blame me? WORDS.

From then on, I was a voracious reader. My grandpa was equally wordy and would give me a book every Sunday after I went to church with him. But he gave me like, BOOKS. I’m talking classics here, kids. Treasure Island, Count of Monte Cristo, Swiss Family Robinson, and so on.

This led to my being scolded by my mother at the age of six for ignoring all the beautiful scenery on our family vacation through the mountains of North Carolina because I was too busy reading Moby Dick.

I may have had my sassy pants on and yelled back, “Jeez mom, most parents would love it if their kids were reading, YA KNOW.”

My poor mom.

So, anyway. Books. Loved them. In fact, I cared more for stories than just about any aspect of life.

I wasn’t a popular kid, which we’ve talked about here before. 8th grade was the worst year, bullying wise. I think that’s the shittiest year for most kids. Hormones and puberty and shit are assholes. No way around that.

There was this particularly awful boy in my History class who found his daily joy in trying to make me cry. Naturally, when our assigned seats were given out? I was sitting right the fuck behind this little human turdlet.

This was not a good time for me. Let’s sum it up by saying I was in a very dark place for a few months.

One day, the most beautiful sight to behold appeared in that classroom. The teacher was wheeling in a TV. MOVIE DAY!!  HUZZAH!!! It didn’t matter that this doucheweasel and his friends were taunting me non-stop for my hideousness and lack of cool clothing, FUCKING MOVIE DAY, BABY!!!

We were supposed to take notes on this flick. Pssh. Tewtally, Teach, I’ll get right on that.

I pulled out my paper and pencil and when the lights shut off, I prepared to scribble a few movie details just in case the teacher checked. Really, I was fully planning to practice sleeping with my eyes open.

But something weird happened.

I stared at that blank page, and these words just started falling out.

I had been imagining this idea in my head for a while just for fun, never thinking of writing it out. It was something I had thought would be a good X-Files episode to be honest (No judgement.) and started writing it out as if it were it’s own story.

Keep in mind kids, this was not quality writing. I was twelve. Go with it.

But before I knew it, class was over, and I was still going. I accomplished absolutely nothing in school that day because I couldn’t stop.

The next day at school, the first thing I did was yank out a notebook and kept going. I was a tween possessed. I HAD WORDS.

And the damndest thing happened. I didn’t even *notice* when people were picking on me. I literally couldn’t hear them while I was writing. I was so damn deep in the zone that a meteor could have landed in the Science room and I wouldn’t have noticed one bit.

I had a bitchin’ purpose for the first time in forever. And I was taking it super seriously. The book had police officers in it, so my 8th grader ass called around local stations and ended up sitting in a cop car for a ride-along for research. I dug through the library to find things I needed to know. I spent all day and night trying to find plot-holes. Not that I knew they were called plot-holes.

The first thing I’d think about in the morning was that story, and all through the day. Before I fell asleep, I was in my head in that world. It’s what I dreamed about.

I went to my first Writer’s Conference the next year because I was determined to learn and actually make that book a book one day.

Alas, later that year I’d broken my leg and had a cast on up to my hip. I’d been called to the office to take medicine and came back to find that someone in the class had taken my notebook, torn it apart, and threw it around the room. The teacher saw this, and did nothing as I very calmly tried to wiggle across the floor with this giant ass cast on my leg and pick up all the pages. Also, I had no copies. This was a hand written story. I had to re-write the entire thing with because of that.

Not to sound like a douche, but everyone in that room who let them, or didn’t help? You suck. A lot. Like twenty years later and I still kind of want to throw things at all of you.

I started over, and it was a little better that round. I guess you can call those forced revisions, 😉

But after two-and-a-half years, I finally finished that story. I put it away and kept it just for me. I think maybe two people in the entire world have ever read it. It’s that special to me. It’s like my teenage soul scribbled out on a collection of thirteen legal pads.

After that, everything was different in my brain. I had stories. I had words. I had a place I could retreat to where NO ONE COULD FIND ME. Sure, I occasionally had to venture into the real world for reasons, but no matter what, I always had those better worlds in my brain.

And they were MINE. All mine. And I could do absolutely anything I wanted in there.

There may have been a loosely plotted story about a young gal who got to throw pies in the faces of all her jerky, notebook ruining classmates without getting a detention. Maybe.

Writing and books and words gave me an escape when I was a kid stretched out too damn far to hang on by myself. As an adult it gives me a place to go when mortgages and schedules and soccer practice get to be too exhausting.

Words have always been there for me, and I will be forever grateful. Perhaps they saved my life. I sometimes shudder to think where I would have landed if I hadn’t started writing that day.

But thankfully I never had to find out. Because WORDS.

I hope you all are fabulous and well!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and WORDS



  1. I want to go back in time and give your 12 year old self a hug. My childhood was so much like yours.

    But apparently sad little girls grow up to be awesome writers! 😀

  2. Aww, I love this! I love reading the “how-I-started-writing” stories, especially when there’s an element of “it-saved-my-emotional-life” included (I can relate!). I’m also glad you started writing that day. Look where it’s landed you!

    And I seriously can’t believe people would be that cruel. They just let your story get destroyed? Ugh.

  3. Melisa Shinault |

    I remember that year and u got to help you carry your stuff to the classes we had together. I didn’t mind i got out if class early. :). You also let me read that book as you wrote it and I remember you having to rewrite it because of that terrible day. I actually really liked that story and I could totally see it all happening in my head as I read it. I thought it was an awesome story and I would totally buy that book if it ever became one! I also love love love to read but I am not much of a writer so keep writing I will be reading all the books!

  4. I despised 8th grade as well. I used to tell everyone who would listen my theory that if American girls were home schooled during junior high, we could eliminate so many cases of depression, eating disorders, and poor self-image.

    And if anyone bullies my kids, God help them, because I’m going to take out a can of whoop ass on them (and their parents). I will stick up for them like no one stood up for me.

    I think that’s fair warning, don’t you?

  5. 7th grade for me sounds like 8th for you. And that was the year I discovered the power of escaping into my fictional world. I will admit, if the cool kids were the ones ripping apart your notebook, I probably wouldn’t have tried to stop them. Because it would have brought too much attention my way. But I definitely wouldn’t have participated. And where the fuck was the teacher? Why did s/he let this go on????

  6. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I, gratefully, had a tight group of nerdy friends like me in 7th and 8th grade. But we moved November of my 9th grade year, I kinda had to scrape myself up and put myself back together again. I hadn’t discovered my own ability to write words then. But, I would immerse myself in either books or music. And I promised myself that one day, there would be a time and place where I could have as much of either as I wanted.
    I have children, so obviously I have to have a knob on the faucet of word/music flow. But this life now is sooooo much better than I could have imagined back in 1989. 😛

    Words (and music) got me through.

  7. I am so sorry you were bullied. *hugs* Kids that age can be brutal, but that teacher who did nothing upsets me most of all.
    The good news is you found words. 🙂
    Hopefully karma schooled the bullies and lame teacher.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. That’s an incredibly awesome story. Obviously it’s a shame you were bullied, but the awesome story’s always the most important part!

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