It all started with King Koala. Well, that and my dad. He’d written a handful of books while he lived and taught in Australia, around the time I was born. Then in second grade, after I was back in the States and had lost my accent, I penned and illustrated a series of stories about the heroic King Koala and his kingdom’s ongoing battle with the evil Killer Koala. Those stories still exist, buried deep in a box in the attic. Maybe I’ll share them here some day.
By middle school it had evolved. By then I was writing “Which Way” or “Choose Your Own Adventure” books based in large part on my fascination with reading stories that could change based on the reader’s preferences. I loved building “story trees” then, having the framework of a dozen story lines, writing them out, bit-by-bit, like sewing shapes one-by-one into a quilt. The only one I recall writing was about a mountain ski trip adventure, something I was passionate about in the winter of 1986 since our class had gone on a field trip during which time I’d been introduced to cross-country skiing. I’m sure it, too, currently resides somewhere in the attic.
That’s also the time where I suppose I started writing love letters. I was an early bloomer (my first romantic feelings overwhelming me as soon as kindergarten) and when I wasn’t able to nervously hold the hand of my girlfriend or walk her part way home after school I’d be scribbling together little poems and notes and engaging in other heart felt creative notions.
By high school that had evolved into regularly journaling which went side-by-side with all the letter writing to my then high school sweetheart. The end result: a thick black bound three ring binder holding a journal I had diligently devoted myself to during my summer in Australia in ’98 as I bemoaned the distance between my first true love and myself. Yep, it too, sleeps in the attic.
And then a lot of short stories. And the first draft of a book. I wanted to be a writer, a published writer. At one point I must have spent three months doing nothing but writing and sending out manuscripts. Some truly beautiful (I feel) short stories came out of that time. They were usually dedicated to someone I was in love with, someone I cared about, someone I’d do anything for. Someone I was trying to tell something I couldn’t do through a letter or conversation. I plan to publish them as a self-published book sometime in the next year or so.
Sixteen years. I used to write that phrase a lot in the last few years of The Temple (my old website). I’d been blogging for at least 16 years straight, well before it was called “blogging” (I preferred the term “web journal”). I wrote for so many reasons. I’d just had a light bulb moment. I needed to share. I was exploring the nature of existence, of myself. I was telling the world who I was. I was challenging myself to always be as honest as possible. I was exercising my writing muscles. I was keeping myself occupied. I was providing myself a therapy for depression, loneliness, and an undiagnosed health condition (which later turned out to be Lyme). I was breathing, I was dancing, I was staying alive. I was figuring out what was the truth while making sense of my own. I was leaving some kind of testament for a life I felt was unique and worth making a history of. I was exploring. I was nesting. I was stretching. I was.