I used to be a fiction writer. I still have stories that I wrote before I could really write that my mother saved for me. I find them particularly amusing because they’re very short and they were printed out on our old dot matrix with clip art for illustrations.
When I was in high school I had some very excellent English teachers who told me I had a talent for writing. I would lose myself in my stories, create characters that were a little bit of me, write out the situations I was most afraid of. I was always good at copying the styles of my favourite writers – Dickens and Salinger being the easiest to emulate. Short sentences, deep characterization. One of the stories I remain most proud of is a story that was meant as a tribute to Salinger’s A Perfect Day for Bananafish, with a little bit of Canadiana thrown in (I set it in Brandon, Manitoba and my main character had season tickets to the Wheat Kings, as you should if you live in Brandon, Manitoba).
When I went to college and started writing in news style, I stopped writing fiction. I don’t know if I was just too busy, or too tired of writing anything when I got home, but the fiction in me went away and it’s never really come back. I miss it.
I feel as if at some point between childhood and here I lost my imagination. I used to be very good at playing pretend, with friends or by myself. I used to lose myself in books, just fall right in. When I was with high school I had notebooks that I carried with me all the time and I was always writing, sometimes stories, sometimes stream of consciousness, always writing the things that filled up my mind.
Now I have notebooks that act more as journals and I get irritated that I’m always writing about me. Where are all the people I used to build in my head? Where are the ideas that used to flow like water.
I tried to get it back when I did NaNoWriMo this year, but even that was about my fears about my life and I was never totally happy with the characters, they seemed so fake. I want to try again when November comes around, but now I wonder if it’s even worth it. Honestly, I’m spending my mat leave thinking a lot about what I want from my life. I’m going to have to figure it out and start demanding things of myself.