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Losing It

By , Manalapan, NJ
I had always been one of those kids with an overactive imagination. You know, the kids who sat in class, staring at the wall but being completely entertained? Yeah. That was me.

I always had a story in my mind. For about four or five years, I had an ongoing storyline with my Barbie dolls. I can’t really remember it clearly, but I do know that it had some sort of Cinderella character named Sarah. Sarah succumbed to the garbage can after I tried to slide her down the railing like I saw Andy do to Woody in Toy Story. Her legs had to be amputated, and it sort of brought an end to my doll soap operas.

I soon realized that I could make other stories. It was really a fascinating revelation, to realize that I could put words onto paper. Of course, by then I knew that. I had learned how to write the alphabet and simple words in kindergarten. But in first grade, I got to write an autobiography and realized that people might actually want to read what I had written.

The question was – did I want to read it?

Um. Not really. Even a six year old will get bored reading “My name is Samantha. I have a pet dog and a baby brother.”

I was much more interested in things that weren’t true, that were made up. Those stories from my head were what took my attention. Journals? No. Nonfiction? Real stuff? You’re kidding, right? This is probably the first piece of nonfiction I’ve ever written willingly. In my life. And already, I’m boring the hell out of myself. But I can’t stop at this point, so onward we go!

In second grade I was nominated for an award for what is, admittedly, a really bad piece of writing about the dentists’ tickly toothbrush. It was then that I realized that the stories I wrote didn’t always have to be real (after all, as dramatic of a child as I was, I doubt I would have burst into tears when the tickly toothbrush broke. And even my brother wouldn’t be able to figure out how to snap it in two).

I guess that’s what really started it. By fourth grade, my stories were reaching a page, two pages, three pages. In fifth grade, I wrote a twelve chaptered horror novella using me and my friends as characters. In sixth grade, I attempted to write several parodies of combining my favorite book series and the video game world (which always confused me).

In seventh grade, I realized that I had what some people would call a gift. Words flowed almost effortlessly out of my pen. Plotlines would plan themselves out while I daydreamed in math class. I started at least three different novels during seventh grade, all of which will likely be works in progress for a long time.

I found out in eighth grade that I was skilled in imagery. It was really just a mistake when I found out. I had always loved descriptions, beautiful, flowing descriptions that made me feel the rough wood under my finger when it was really paper, that made me taste sweet, hot, melting chocolate on my tongue when it was only air. I didn’t realize that I transferred that love to my own work. My teacher had me read a piece aloud and then announced to the class that my imagery was great.

The summer before ninth grade brought problems. It was a great summer, don’t get me wrong – I could spend ages talking about it. Everything was going right for once, everything was doing well.

Except my writing.

In the months previous, I had been fueling my emotions into my stories. You could read a few paragraphs and know instantly what kind of mood I had been in. My friends even knew what kind of setting I was writing in – was I sprawled across the floor with a notebook and pen, letting the light fade from the windows and leaving me swathed in darkness? Or was I sitting at my desk, lights shining, typing at my computer while my favorite music blasts from the speakers? You could tell when you read my writing.

My grandpa died in spring. I was writing more than ever then. I sometimes reread my work from that time period and wince at how dark the tone is. It’s a pretty big change from my usual peppy attitude that turns on when I’m with my friends.

I’m still not sure what stopped the flow. I don’t think I ever will be.

Every time I sat down over the summer to write, I’d hold the pen an inch off the paper, I’d cup my hands over the keyboard. And nothing. The things that usually flowed naturally came out stilted and awkward, if they came at all. They scarcely did.

I wasn’t too devastated at first. It was writers’ block, something I had encountered before. The most prominent in my mind is during fifth grade when I was so desperate to write something that I constructed and essay for school about writers’ block and how to beat it. That broke the dam, but I really wasn’t in the mood to even write that.

Come September. My first year of high school. Tons of ideas, tons of new experiences that I could use in my writing.

Nothing came of it.

My imagination hadn’t stopped flowing. Anyone could tell you that I was still the one who daydreamed in class or scribbled fragments and words on napkins in attempt to hold on to what seems like strokes of brilliance until the next day. But the words themselves, the formation of my characters and plots were trickling away.

I could live with that. As long as my mind kept thinking, as long as I could keep these things in my head, I could survive and enjoy it.

Until even that refused to stay.

You’d think that when a person stops zoning out and starts paying more attention in class they’d do better. You’d think that when they stop staying up until two in the morning to write down that “last paragraph”, they’d be less tired. It’s not necessarily true. I would take diligent notes in school, yet be unable to grasp the material. I’d wake up more tired than I had fallen asleep.

I didn’t understand. I still don’t.

Then, you’re probably wondering, how are you writing this now? To be completely honest, I haven’t got a clue and it’s like a blessing to me right now. I’m not going to look over this, not yet. I know how I am, I know that if I read it over, I’ll change it and try to make it perfect, like all writers do. But I can’t make it perfect, it will never be perfect. It’s words on a screen that I’m cherishing while they last. This is unedited, unrevised.

This is probably a piece of crap, but I’ll figure that out in a few weeks, a few months, a few years – whenever my muse comes back for good.

I hadn’t written in ages. I had tried, of course, but was slowly giving up. Then, after opening a Document to write an assignment for school, I started to type and this was it. Not my Bio vocab (which I really ought to get to soon, it’ll probably take me an hour to finish with the textbook I have). This.

And I’m happier than I think I’ve been in a while.

The words are suddenly flowing again, the imagination waking from its long sleep. I think I’m ready to write again. I think I’m ready to create a world and characters and conflicts. I’m grinning ear to ear, like a Cheshire Cat, but I probably look more insane than the one in Alice and Wonderland because I’m laughing and crying at the same time from my pure joy at the fact that one of the things that made me happier than anything has returned. It’s like… like losing something you hold dear and finding it buried under a pile of dirty laundry weeks later. Sheer relief and joy.

I feel like me again.
Screw biology homework. Where’s my pen?





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