Seventh grade was a life changing adventure. It was the first time we had the freedom to travel from class to class with only a bell to keep order in the halls. It was full of chocolate chip pancakes, that somehow went horribly wrong, in cooking class. A student stole a stack of my Star Wars encyclopedias, and no joke, two geeks almost beat the hell out of him… over Star Wars encyclopedias. It was the first time I started standing up to bullies.
I was a kid who read constantly, always having a Star Wars book in hand, drawing mystical characters… and of course, Star Wars characters. This was before being a geek was cool. Today, the term is synonymous with being awesome.
Geeks, I still have no idea how we won that fight, but we did.
Again, being a geek was not cool when I was a student. I liked vampires before they had glittery skin. Marvel and DC were things before the movies, though I didn’t read many comics, mainly drew the characters and watched the X-Men cartoons.
This was a time of imagination. Special effects were just starting to evolve. We had VHS tapes until I was in high school, and I rented VHS until my college years. Be glad if you don’t know what a VHS was. That means you didn’t have to triple check that it was rewound before returning it to the video rental store… that’s a place that rented movies, trapped in black plastic boxes, to families before Netflix.
During this time of imagination, I built my drawing skills. I was a lucky student. Most subject matter came naturally, which meant boredom, which in turn meant drawing.
My seventh grade English teacher noticed. She came up to me one day and said she would bind my drawings into a book, provided I came up with dialogue for each picture.
Bind into a book?
I immediately started drawing more. She legitimized the distraction, essentially ruining my ability to pay attention to lectures to the point where my high school career was spent drawing through most of the classes. Most of the teachers didn’t care, as long as I didn’t interrupt the class and kept my grades up. Little did they know they all had a hand in my creative path. Or maybe they did know… sneaky, sneaky.
With the distraction legitimized, I drew more and wrote little dialogues for each of them. I submitted it and she bound it as promised. It sits on my shelf today. I’ve pulled it out over the years and skimmed it.
What I didn’t realize is that it was a step in my process. During counseling sessions, it took me years to connect that I wrote actual bound books in 3rd grade and wrote a comic book in seventh grade. It just didn’t dawn on me.
This all helped me gain some more confidence. The universe had sent me on a journey early on. Programming became a means to an end, perfectly setting myself up with a marketing background, website, and the freelancing experience to write freely.
What is the point of this whole entry? I have no traditional writing education and my journey is a writing journey. If you are starting a writing career, just look back on your past. You may not remember right away, but I think you’ll find little things here and there that help reaffirm the journey.
Hopefully this helps someone out there in the ethers. I know remembering the tidbits of writing in my past helped build my confidence. You don’t need a traditional background to do what you love.
P.S. Here are a few of those comic book entries for your enjoyment.