I dig writing. Always have.
The first story I can remember writing was called “Love is Never Having to Say You’re Sorry.” The premise was that a father says goodbye to his wife and children at the airport, then gradually goes blind as they walk away from him down the jetway. Very, very deep. I was seven. I remember sobbing to myself as I wrote it. Then I sobbed some more when I went downstairs and read it to my mom. My heart was so broken by my own story that I could barely get through the reading. No amount of eye rolling on her part could dampen my excitement at discovering that my work could evoke just as powerful an emotional response as a published writer’s could.
Even if only in myself.
I wrote and wrote. I wrote in journals. I wrote on a typewriter. I wrote on a rudimentary word processor that my parents bought me in high school. Many times, I stood up in front of classes and read my work. I eventually even learned to hold it together so that I didn’t weep while doing so.
Many of my stories were over-wrought, emotional globs of goo. After “Love,” I wrote a story about a girl who got AIDS from a blood transfusion and had to educate her class about the disease so they would accept her. Then, there was the story for my high school creative writing class about the woman who gets pregnant at her husband’s insistence, then decides over time that she really does want the baby only to miscarry before bringing the baby to term.
Hold it. That one idea is actually half-decent! Did I mention that all material on this site is under copyright by Shannon Rigney?
I won’t even go into the poetry that I wrote, except to admit that it was full of references to blood, invisibility, pain, betrayal, and the fetal position. No, I didn’t write about the fetal position, but that’s where you would be if forced to listen to any of it for too long. Well, we all start somewhere.
There was a long period – I’ll call it my twenties – when I stopped writing more or less completely. I still dabbled. The margins of my notebooks were always full of phrases and ideas. But I didn’t dig in, didn’t see anything through. I got distracted and stopped believing in my writing as a practice that was worth my time and efforts. During that time, I got a Master’s degree in teaching and began to teach elementary school. Supporting young creative minds as they learned about the craft of writing lit a dormant flame within me. I wrote stories again, lots of them, and stood in front of my own class of budding learners and shared them so that they might learn from – and with – me. These stories were a little lighter than my early work. There were many, many stories about my dog Mystery. There was one about cousins who come to visit, and stay a little too long. (Don’t forget what I said about the copyright.)
Now, I have no class to stand in front of, but it no longer matters. I write every single day. I write curricula. I write stories. I even still write a poem once in a while. I have several notebooks, for a variety of purposes, and the margins are still full of phrases and ideas. Some of them I won’t get to, but it won’t be because I’m not writing anymore. It’ll be because I’m writing something better. I feel like I’m coming a little late to the game but, fortunately, it’s my own game so I won’t turn me away.