Sunday, January 17, 2010

Your first...

No, it's not a naughty post.

Two Saturdays a month, I facilitate a free writing group (as a volunteer)for people living with mental illness (like me.) The people who have come to this group have ranged from the highly functioning (as I like to think of myself) to those who have been seriously ill and unable to work.

At last week's class, I only had one person show up, but if I have one person, I consider it worthwhile. It's a new group, anyhow, so we aren't expecting it to "stick" and become known for a few months.

Anyhow, at the end of the previous class I gave "homework" which I also did myself. It was to write about your first memorable experience with writing.

I thought this might be an interesting question to pose to all of you in blogland, seeing as how we connect through our writing.

This is what I came up with:

The first time I remember writing anything was in our new Houston apartment when I was six years old, which would have been late 1982.

Questions occur to me now - such as, how did we find a babysitter so fast after moving to a new state where we knew almost no one? And where were my mother and my brother? And who was this babysitter, and what did she look like? All I remember was that the carpet was an unattractive brown color - is there ever attractive brown carpet, actually? - and we had dared to scatter markers all over the floor because my mother, who later said she wanted the place to "look live no one lives here," was out. The markers had the caps on, of course - even at six, though I had balls, I limited my risk-taking.

I had made a book, out of paper. There were some illustrations to go with the text.

I asked - or probably told - the babysitter to make a book, too. Then I told her to sign it.

"Put your name on the byline," I told her.

"On the what?" she asked.

"The BYLINE," I said, impatiently. "Where it says 'By', you make a line and you put your name there."

You can't imagine my thrill a few years later when, an aspiring reporter, I found out that byline was a real word. I had invented something that already existed. Success!

How about you?


LL Cool Joe said...

This is a very cool idea! I have great problems with remembering very large areas of my past, particularly my childhood. Actually, I don't remember much at all. I carefully locked my memories away, and I'm not ready to open up that door.

G said...

Hmmmm...I would say I have about three viable answers to this question:

1) back in the early 80's, I used to hang around with a kid who was about 8 years younger than me an had an IQ about 150 points higher than mine (lo 120's). Anyways, I used to make elaborate song paradoies off the top of my head. Didn't write them down, but had fun while doing it.

2) In the early 90's, I tried to write a funny story based on "Green Eggs & Ham", while I was at work.

Came out so horribly that from that point until 2005, I kept my writing endeavors strictly to elaborately pithy, witty and sarcastic e-mails to my friends.

3) Winter 2005/Spring 2006 is when I started writing again (due to personal problems that I may elaborate again someday). Been doing it ever since.

BTW: You just made me feel really old. You said your earliest memory was back in 1982 and in 1982, I was a Junior/Senior in high school.

Lynn said...

What a great story! And a wonderful exercise for your group - I'll bet they have been fascinating to read.

The first thing that popped into my head about a first experience was how my 3rd grade class was asked to write a story that we would read to the class out loud and how I labored over it and edited it and rewrote it on a clean sheet of notebook paper. I do not remember what I wrote, only that another classmate submitted a story copied out of a storybook I had at home. My first experience with recognizing plagiarism.

B said...

I think I was in second grade. There was a program called "Young Authors" or something similar for which you could have a blank book (actual hard cover and blank pages! all white!) to use for your text and illustrations. I wrote a story about a girl named Tilly who hated her name and ran away from home. It was kind of horrible but inspired a conversation with my dad along the lines of "If I grow up to be an author [I didn't know 'writer' was a better word to use when I was six], I don't want to write for critics. I just want to write what *I* want to write." My dad didn't understand this, and to this day, no one seems to get why I'm pleased with articles I write online don't get comments :P

Aliceson said...

The byline story was so cute! I love it!

Darth Weasel said...

that is not only is the basis for another BJP story! do it! do it! do it! I need this!

Ily said...

By _______________ (I love it!!) You must've been an adorable kitten! :)

I remember feeling SO self- conscious because of my Spanish that I kept all my writing short (still do), and I don't remember writing anything meaningful (I hate to admit). I blocked all that out.

Hm,...maybe I should join your group.

Riot Kitty said...

Joey: I'm with you - it was just a memory exercise about writing, so I did ok :)
G: Not my earliest memory, just my earliest one about writing, so don't feel old!
L: That is pretty early for plagiarism!
A: Thanks!
Darth: You need this...why? :)
I: I am still adorable. Just kidding! I'd never know from reading your blog that you'd feel self-conscious. You should be proud to be able to write in two languages :)

JLee said...

A born writer! lol
I remember in 1st or 2nd grade writing this bizarre (or so I thought) story that just went on and on. The teacher thought it was the best thing and praised me for it's creativity, but I thought I was full of crap (which is true to this day. haha)

Fireblossom said...

Clyde Crashcup and his assistant Leonardo used to always be inventing things that had already been invented, too! They were my favorites!

Anonymous said...


Darth Weasel said...

because BJP is super cool awesome to the nth and needs another adventure!

Riot Kitty said...

Darth: :) Thanks!

G said...

One last memory of sorts.

I did a parody of MacBeth set to "Another One Bites The Dust" for my English Lit class.

Got a C on it.