I wrote a lot when I was a kid.
It started with reading. Sometime around second grade, I had a youngish hippie-Montessori-esque teacher who gave us the tasks we needed to do each day but then leaving us to pace ourselves, letting us decide moment to moment – sort of – what we were going to do. I usually read – but instead of reading storybooks, I would often pull down a couple random volumes of the class encyclopedia and flip through them, staggered by the sheer volume of stuff there was in the world. The writing came in any time I came across something so completely mind-blowing that I needed to think it through in greater depth; and so I’d write a little story about me encountering whatever strange thing I’d discovered, imagining what it’d be like – developing Arctic polar snow blindness in my back yard, hunting for chupacabras in the playground, holding a sandwich contest with Julia Child…I rarely showed my work to anyone. They were just for me; they were mental processing.
I added a bit more non-fiction in junior high. I never had the conventional “diary” – but I always wrote, especially when I was bored; usually free-association braindumps which helped me process some increasingly complex thoughts and worries. I still wrote stories, though – my two best friends and I kept a round-robin novel going through freshman year, the three of us writing about three other girls who were three very thinly disguised versions of us. We talked about things in The Book which we didn’t talk about out loud – fears about tests, how to cope with dating, how to cope with not dating, the pointlessness of our gym class. It was in The Book that one of my friends first confessed to us that she didn’t really want to be a marine biologist, the way she’d been telling us all since she was ten, and it was in The Book that I took pity on myself and gave myself the First Kiss From A Boy that I was actually too shy to lure in real life.
The Book was still a way of trying on real life, experimenting with other selves. The sort of stream-of-consciousness nonfiction I did was different…it wasn’t a diary, it wasn’t a bunch of essays. It was just…writing. I didn’t know what to call it. That is, I didn’t know what to call it until the late 90’s, well after graduating high school – it was blogging. Even so, I came to blogging late – I tried a fictionalized version in the mid-90’s, continuing my character’s life into her 20’s in New York (imagine a much tamer and nerdier version of Girls); then a non-fiction blog in my 30’s.
Things fizzled out for a few years as just plain life got in the way, as I lost a couple jobs and got caught up in a freelance writing gig and had a run of bad personal luck. I made half-hearted stabs at writing, but so much of my energy was going to just keeping my wits together that the inner voice I’d had for so long had just stopped.
And I missed it.
I’ve tried starting and re-starting a blog a few times now in the past couple years, trying to bring it back. I thought maybe if I had a point to my blog, that’d help – ah, that’s it, I will write a food blog. ….Okay, maybe one about being a New England girl in New York. ….Okay, maybe something about gelato? Wait, even that didn’t work?….
In fact, this was going to be a travel blog. Except I was having trouble naming it, and mentioned to a friend that maybe my dithering about finding a title was what was keeping me from starting the damn thing. He thought for literally only about ten seconds before coming up with a delicious pun on my name: “How about ‘WadsWords’?”
“…That’s so good I have to use it,” I said.
Except it’s not a travel blog title as such. But maybe this isn’t supposed to be a travel blog anyway. Or a gelato blog or a food blog or whatever the hell else I’d been trying to think of. This is just my blog, just like the notebooks I wrote in all through junior high or the stories about desert sandstorms I wrote about in second grade. This is just…my words. That’s all it has to be.