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The Moulding of a Writer

by Amelia Moore 6 months ago in Teenage years

How you find and pursue what you love.

My three brothers and I (in the middle)

The starting point for most great creative artists is in their childhood, when through an act of brilliance, a moment of pure creativity, hours of genius committing themselves to their craft at an age when diapers drooped ‘round their ankles, parents turned to each other and said, “Wow! Our child could change the world!”

I am not a great creative artist.

However, I did start young, the blame of which can be placed on my kindergarten teacher. Before kindergarten, I was a bit of a boring individual. Young I was, poured into the chocolate mould of my parents and waiting gloopily till age and experience would ripen the taste of my chocolate and allow me to spring upwards in stubbornness, in teen righteousness, and to become my own mould. At that age, I mostly clutched the hands of my parents and listened with dazed confusion as loud-voiced ‘colourful’ (the adult word for crazy when they defensively don’t want to pay any other school for a better teacher) teachers told us about the weather and let us play with blocks. Preschool ended and kindergarten was set to begin.

My parents, like most parents whose child is starting Life for the first time, worried over who my teacher would be. They had a specific idea in mind: ‘Snow White with a hammer in her pocket.’ My princess came in the form of Mrs Swanson who seemed perfectly nice though, according to my memory, which is rarely wrong, stood too close to my face on the first day. Kindergarten turned out to be a little more exciting than preschool. Kind of the same deal, though I remember being startled at the expectation to ‘learn’ things. I preferred the blocks.

Eventually we were given a break to do whatever we wanted, likely rest for our chocolate-moulded brains. Some kids took over the toy cars. Some started drawing frogs and fairies. I was bored. I didn’t like cars and my frogs looked like footballs. I appraised my teacher, deemed her the adult destined to entertain me, and asked what I could do. She handed me a stapler and some paper and told me to make a book. The idea appealed and I shrugged and returned to my seat. I picked up a crayon…

And THUS, ladies and gentlemen and others, my journey into the World began!

My words were big and illegible, but I sketched messy scribbles of what I had in mind. From then on out, every day, I would come up to my teacher and ask if I could make a book. I must’ve made dozens, each carefully done, but I remember few of the plots. My memories dimmed like light bulbs.

I don’t know if I continued writing into first grade, but I definitely did in second. I remember a story about a group of pegasuses (pegasi?) going on an adventure, read aloud to my class with a crimson face. My first moment of true writer jealousy came that day too when another girl in my class shared the brilliant (yes, I still think so) tale ‘Why Me?’ in which children find themselves shrunk and inside their father’s nose. Hers was definitely better and preferred by the class, the teacher saying “I like how you made the title as something said by a character” a compliment that still smarts eight years later.

After I entered third grade and met the horror of a teacher, my interest in bookmaking dropped a little bit though I stayed good at writing in general. I turned to stories instead, pure stories. My two friends and I were in love with the Warrior Cats books and we filled sheet after sheet with our own clans and our own characters. During recess, we acted out our little worlds (I led the plots, while my ex-friend controlled what our characters would look like) and had terrific fun with it, all the way to fourth grade.

With these flashes and games of nerdy genius, I also devoured books. I’d read while the teacher was talking and look up startled when I saw everyone else moving around and starting an assignment. Oh, shit! To this day I don’t know the temperature very well and I didn’t learn to tell time until seventh grade. But I have no regrets.

In fifth grade we moved again and I fell in love with cat and dragon toys. Our new house was an apartment building and, lucky me, I met three girls, one of whom demonstrated a love for cats and dragons as well. We lugged the toys all over base and had great fun with them. That was a fun year, and the move that followed broke my heart.

In sixth grade, I discovered myself a Nerd. I preferred books over human interaction (believing naively that middle school would be little different than elementary, and that we would all be friends eventually) though it seemed everyone else had gotten the memo that books were Out and TikTok was In and I, nervous and clutching “Ella Enchanted” was introduced to a world of early-developed asses bouncing in black tights, popular girls who looked like high schoolers, and rowdy boys on the bus who swore and rapped their little hearts out. Ah, I miss those boys.

I had an excellent language arts teacher who adored me and taught me a lot over the course of the year. Though my tongue could sometimes cut, it showed well in my writing, and it was quickly clear that I was the best in the class (not to brag, though I believe we’re past that point) with my “Pumpkin Pete” and “The Fox” and “Sally and Mrs Chipley” decorating the school bulletin board in the hallways. Oho. I could do this. I was good at this.

We all have that Harry-Potter-on-his-broom-for-the-first-time moment when you realize that you’re good at something. Perhaps yours came from Mrs Nelson making you read your story aloud to the class, to your great embarrassment, or perhaps it came at age sixty-five when you sit down to finally write that novel and notice with some alarm that it bounces to the top of the bestseller lists.

Sixth grade was sort of my Harry Potter moment. Before, I’d always been good at English and I liked stories and characters, but this was when I began to write in earnest, in interest, to explore the limits of my skills and see how good I could be. The first story that was just for me—I think you always remember your first—was called “Mitchell Prine” the story of a man who sits by a fireplace and waits for Death. It was scribbled down in a notebook one day, squatting in the hallway, frenzied by excitement by the feeling that I was making something, that I was doing something that I knew was good. I was called to class and spent the rest of the period annoying my photography teacher, jerking away from my computer to scribble down another line. It was good stuff and I was proud.

From then on, I was a Writer. I wrote my own stories when I could (and when I could force myself to, instead of rewatching Friends for the millionth time) and when Inspiration, thy fleeting, heartless bitch, deigned to make a visit. (I have since then discovered that Inspiration isn’t something to be waited on, that you have to chase it screaming with a spear and maul it till it’s nice and bloody and chunky and easy to digest.)

In seventh grade I continued to progress. Born was “Pilot” “Mrs Josephine Stephanie Parlour” “Chasing Foxes" "You Don’t Know Me” (one of my highlights) and others.

Not all of them were finished, don’t go thinking I’m some sort of prodigy touched by the stars and just knowing how to do crap, I don’t. I’m not Terry Pratchett, writing his first genius of a story at thirteen, or JK Rowling, finishing a book at twelve, or the boy who did Eragon when he was barely older than me, or that British girl published at thirteen and advertised as the next legendary writer. Each of these people has lodged their way bitterly into my memory, serving as a lapis lazuli statue to compare my measly clay pot of a self with.

Eight grade I wrote more than I ever had before, delighted with each word typed onto the page, relishing the satisfaction of bringing a notebook to school every day and knowing that I had the power to create stories from thin air and make them good ones, to enjoy what I was doing and to wield my pen like the weapon it was. On the first day of English, in a fit of this pride and bursting with the desire for people to know I was Special, I raised my hand to ask if it was okay that I carried a notebook around, to write stories in. Following my glorious statement, the teacher blinked slowly and said that it was fine.

I’ve always been a person with stories in my head and the desire to make my life a story. I’ve always wanted a Thing if that makes sense. To be the girl with a broken ankle (hence the crutches at school for what was only a very painful sprain.) Maybe I would have a strange, unusual phobia (in fifth grade I spouted the idea that I was afraid of cats.) I would have a sense of style envied by everyone in school, a fashion genius! (I did have good style in middle school, though I think the banana-yellow pants were overboard.)

I fell in love with the idea of being Special, because Special people are envied, they get attention, people admire them no matter what they’re like, and that was the life I wanted to build for myself. I flitted from group to group in vain attempts to be accepted and to show I was interesting enough to be liked. I had breakdowns and anxiety attacks, crushed for three years on the boy who liked a girl cooler than I was, got into a fist fight with a guy a year older than me once (a memorable story) and of course, did thousands of embarrassing things that, if I don’t keep locked up in the back of my mind, torture me till dawn.

But steadfastly my comfort, waiting dusty on my shelves or scrunched up in my backpack, books and notebooks and pens were my companions.

I finished freshman year recently, in a new city, in a weird school, and I appreciate the heroes who waited for me to return—despite the work crowding my brain, despite having a phone which proved to be fascinating, despite incidents and meltdowns and nasty words, Stephen King and Gail Carson Levine and Jack London and P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie and Liane Moriarty and Harper Lee and Andy Weir and Toni Morrison and many more waited for me, along with the characters conjured by my brain.

My craft, my being, my soul, is writing. Writing is how I feel time, how I make time slow down, how I erase the stress of a day or a friendship or the feeling of being fat or ugly, by sitting down to my computer and making Words come to life. I’m not even sixteen but I’m so grateful it’s in my life. Read my books someday when they come out. I can’t wait till it happens.

Teenage years

Amelia Moore

Read next: The Whole Truth: Winter Sledding Incident

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