You knew you wanted to be a writer when you read Nancy Drews in your backyard with the Go-Go’s playing on KFRC, a jar of jelly beans nearby, along with a Diet Coke. You are reading Nancy Drews all summer long because Judy Blume read Nancy Drews. You love Nancy. Nancy can solve crimes, be a good friend to George and Bess, and a good daughter to Carson Drew. One day you put the book down. You know what you are going to do with your life. You are going to be a writer. You love books. You love how they carry you through the rough patches, the times when you feel so sad. You love the fact that you read more books than anyone else in your class. You might have bad handwriting, you can’t do double division, but you can read. This is something you are praised for. This is something that no one can take away from you.
You dictate stories to your mother about Skye Scarsbourugh, who is a tad like Nancy.Only her father was dead, but her mother was alive. She lived in Northern California, and had red hair. You have a problem though: You have to go back to school. For you’re only ten years old. Yes you’re overly ambitious, but why not?
You go through the years determined that you will become a writer. You are a writer. This is what you tell people when they ask you what you’re going to be when you grow up. You tell them without thinking a writer. Sometimes they try to discourage you. Writing is so hard,so much rejection. Well hey, you can handle rejection. You survived the fact you had bad handwriting, acne, and middle school. Anything else is easy peasy.
You cling to things taught to you through the years. You write in notebooks, you type, you let yourself write bad drafts. You see people you know get awards, published. There are times you are down to your last dime, and you have no idea what to do next. Something always comes up; a forgotten five in a jacket pocket. money you lent to a friend is paid back. Yet there are times when you feel you will never get the brass ring. You will not have a house like Danielle Steel’s. Also it doesn’t look like you will have a family, or get married. And oh yeah, you have bad grammar.
The memory you cling to--the memory you still cling to that has gotten you through rough times--is one that happened to you in high school. You are tired of your writing voice, and you’re wondering if maybe people were right that you should look in a career at Target or 7-11. Then your creative writing teacher says a girl in your class is having problems with her computer, could you go help her? Oh why not.
You go to the computer lab and the girl is waiting. You knew her since junior high. She used to be a popular girl with feathered hair and stonewashed jeans, now she’s taken to wearing her hair back and wearing ponchos. She needs help with her MacIntosh. This is problematic for you’re an IBM girl. Your mother works for IBM, and you’re on a learning curve with Word Perfect/DisplayWrite 4. But she looks worried, so you say to her: “What do you need?”
“I don’t know how to save it.”
“Okay, on the hard drive or your floppy?” You’re trying to sound technical.
“Okay, go to the upper left hand corner, and a box will come up that says save, but make you you tell it save on the floppy.”
She saved it without problem, then printed it out on the dot matrix printer. From a forbidden radio we heard Michael Penn’s “No Myth” with the lyric what if I was Romeo in blue jeans? In the meantime you figured you’ve done your nice thing for the day, now you better get back to class and figure out if you will look good in that 7-11 smock and practice telling kids to stop looking at the magazines, this ain’t no library.
“Can you take a look at something I wrote?”
You looked at her, surprised. “Sure,” you said.
You read her piece. It’s good, very good. You told her what you like, then gave some feedback on what needs to be fixed. “Can you take a look at this?” she asked, taking a piece of paper from a folder. She is putting a stop on your plans for your pity party. But you read her piece, which again is very solid, very good. You tell her that. She nodded. Then she said “I, um, I really like your writing, you’re really good. It means a lot that you looked at my work.”
You sat there stunned. Any self pity has gone away. If push comes to shove maybe you will have to work at jobs you hate, jobs you’re overqualified for. But you will not stop writing. It’s in your blood.
You managed to thank her. You felt lightheaded,dizzy. You said “I better go back” then you walked back to your class, knowing something happened to you. Michael Penn was still singing what if I was Romeo in blue jeans/what if I was Heathcliff it’s no myth/maybe she’s just looking for someone to dance with.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries