by Caitlin Hertzberg
As early as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer. I’d always been gifted diaries throughout my childhood, swirling gel pen tips to doodle hearts in the margins near the names of boys I crushed on, spilling the ink of my secrets onto lavender-scented paper. I would steal phrases from overheard conversations and work them into melodies that tortured me from inside my head (I still do this). One of my earliest memories of being a writer is from 4th grade, ripping out sheets from a 99-cent spiral notebook and begging my grandmother to “staple it good” down the middle so that I can write stories like Judy Blume and Jerry Spinelli.
Notice I make no mention of writing in school: The kind of writing with strict sentence and paragraph minimums, about topics I couldn’t care about no matter how hard I tried. The kind of writing that you work on for weeks on end in the overheated computer lab, revising, revising, revising, memorizing the teacher-provided rubric until every word of your assignment sounds like an owner’s manual for a VCR.