I’d always been an imaginative kid. I grew up on a cane farm with two brothers who weren’t particularly interested in playing with their annoying little sister, so I made my own fun. I’d head off into the bush and pretend I was an Aborigine, strip off a Paperbark tree and build a lean-to, and collect rocks and make them into primitive furniture and tools. Or I’d pretend I was the Bionic Woman and run in slow motion around the yard, saving tadpoles or battling pretend enemies. I’d pin my long hair onto the top of my head and then spin around, humming the theme from Wonder Woman. I’d collect wounded animals and have long, meaningful conversations with them as I nursed them back to health.
And even though farm life could be solitary sometimes, as long as I had my imagination, I never felt alone.
When we sold the farm and moved back into the city, I couldn’t have the same types of adventures, so I took up living them out in my head. I would often nap, because in my dreams I could do anything and go anywhere. When I woke, those adventures stayed with me and I often continued them in daydreams, excited to navigate where the story would go next.
The first time I realized how fulfilling writing could be was during a creative writing assignment in the sixth grade. We were each given a picture and told to write a story about it. While other kids had photos of families, football matches, and fairgrounds, mine was of a garbage dump. A giant, probably-stinky, mountain of rubbish.
Initially I was bummed. My best friend had a picture of a fairground. It showed people laughing and having fun, holding balloons and giant stuffed animals. Easy.
What the hell was I supposed to do with a stupid rubbish dump?
After pouting for a good ten minutes, an idea hit me: The Graveyard of Broken Dreams. I wrote about all the everyday objects that used to be so important and needed, now discarded and rotting, like so many of the dreams and ideals of the people who threw them away. The central character was a doll. Raggedy Ann. Made with love and given to a grandchild. For so long, she was everything to a little girl, but then slowly and surely, as innocence gave way to experience, the doll was ignored and forgotten, finally discarded along with used tissues and table scraps.
My teacher told me it made her cry. She gave me an A+. The sense of satisfaction I’d felt was immense.
To this day, I credit that assignment with waking my passion for writing. And thank goodness it did, because now, I can’t imagine my life without having this amazing release for my overactive imagination.
I still like to nap so my brain can have its adventures, but more often than not these days, I write those adventures down so other people can read them. Like a fine bottle of wine, words are all the more satisfying when they’re shared, and over the next twelve months, I aim to share mine with as many people as possible.
Come join me on a journey of words.