Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reading My Now-Vintage Writing...

Since my last class reunion, I’ve been getting together with a group of high school friends every few months. A few weeks ago we met at one of their houses and someone brought along a stack of our high school newspapers, Spectrum, for which I was the features editor my junior and senior year. I was a little scared to read the articles I’d written, but once I’d grabbed a stack of papers and searched for my byline I couldn’t quite put them down. My stuff--the alliterative headlines, the essays on first speeding tickets and under-appreciated vending machine candy bars, the channeling-my-inner-teen-psychic horoscopes--was not bad. Not stellar, but decent for 17-year-old me (although I was temped to grab a pen and do just a little editing).

On a recent visit with my sister in Florida, she pulled out a box she had unearthed full of letters I’d written to her when I was in grade school. (She moved down south when she was 20 and I was 11.) The letters were pretty clever and witty, sometimes downright hilarious, and rife with recurring themes (and creative spelling). It was interesting to see my young voice in those letters (and to revisit the things that were soooo important to me when I was 12).

When I was in grade school I never had aspirations to become a writer. (I wanted to be a geologist and anthropologist “both at the same time.” I liked rocks and bones.) When I was in high school, I never made declarations that I would have a career in publishing. (Does anyone in high school ever say I want to be an editor?) I had no clue what to do with my life, pretty much until junior year of college. Yet the universe steered me in this direction.

I remember the moment the world of children’s books was reintroduced to me in college—that first day of my Victorian Children’s Lit class, which I took in the summer, Monday through Friday, every day for six weeks, at 7:30 a.m.—and wheels began to turn in my head. But looking back at my early “masterpieces,” I wonder why the younger me didn’t have a clue that working with words was the way to go.


Wild About Words said...


Really enjoyed your post. It's fun to look at the writing we did a loooong time ago.

By the way, I think my e-mail to you got gobbled up by your spam filter again. Please send me a different e-mail address so I can resubmit. Thanks!

All best,

Justina Chen Headley said...

Alice! I'm sure there are plenty o' novel ideas in those letters. What a wonderful sister to keep them all.


Amy Hanek said...

Alice - I am there with ya. I always had romantic dreams of writing - but with C's in my 10th grade Lang. Arts class, I never really thought I could do it.

Last year I basically woke up one day and decided it was time for me to write. Opportunities have just landed in my lap since then. When things really go right, they really go right!

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