I’ve been a writer without knowing it since I was a kid. As soon as I was old enough to have a diary, I would journal about my day (“Abby the dog followed me around for 30 minutes today. Then Kitty sat next to me for 10.” – in my defense, no one is profound at 6 years old. If they are, they’re ghostwritten.) Then when I became a voracious reader around age 8, I started writing very short stories – like, 3 pages long in my progressively more adult journals. Then at age 9, I got on Prodigy, the O.G. America Online (AOL) community.
And pretended to be over the age of 18 to contribute stories to a communal work of fiction, Prodigy High School.
A gift was born.
There was a Forum section of Prodigy for discussion threads and one was devoted to its fictitious high school world. Users would post intros to their characters (<New girl: Shaunna’s first day>) and other users would reply to the thread with their own characters interacting with the initial subject’s characters (<4th Period: Calculus>). This world was better than the MTV my parents so desperately sought to hide from me, in that I learned ALL. KINDS. OF STUFF. I was actually a pretty popular writer. My characters saw a lot of (inter)action but any time some jock got a little too virtually friendly (“He stroked Carrie’s thigh and moved in for the kiss. Then she–“), I did an about-face and replied with a surly homey-don’t-play-that. As a blushing child, I rarely sneaked a peek at the threads labeled ‘explicit content’ but I also didn’t want anyone to know that I was underage (of puberty). So I posted a thread detailing the excruciatingly difficult decision that my character, high school sophomore, Maya made to have an abortion.
I did my best to research the details of an abortion (circa 1994 when Clinton had made then-waves with his politics) but couldn’t get past the parental blocks on the rinky-dink (state of the art circa 1994) computer. Suffice it to say, I focused on the emotions of the moment instead.
And realized I should be a writer.