I blame my sister for one of my first forays into creating fiction. Blame isn’t quite the right word – it certainly isn’t a fair one – but she is partially responsible for one of my earliest memories of writing.
We were on a trip. We may have been going to the beach or visiting relatives. I can’t quite remember. But sometime during this trip, we decided that we were going to write a story together. Each of us wrote from a different POV, and we spent the days trading a laptop back and forth, writing different parts of this story.
Even though I know this is true, remember the sensation of waiting for it to be my turn to write and to see what she had written, I can’t entirely remember what our shared story was about. Two best friends, one the daughter of a diplomat. Separated. Writing to each other. There may have been a plot to kill someone important. Save a handsome young man who may or may not have been a traitor. The usual drill.
Ultimately the half-remembered plot doesn’t matter. The memory of that experience is what sticks with me. We were both so very young, somewhere between 10 and 12, I imagine, and yet using language, telling stories, bound us together.
The laptop we used to write that story died without a backup. Bittersweet. The story is lost. In some ways, I think the hazy memory of the writing is better than having the actual words. If I read them now, I would cringe even knowing they had been written by a much younger version of myself. Practice makes a writer, and back then I had no practice. At the same time, I wish I could see those words, that record of our past selves.
Writing is like archaeology in that way. It acts as an indelible mark of who we are at a given moment in time. We can go back, reread, chip away at the dusty bits, and learn about who we once were. That makes it precious. That makes it priceless.
And I am happy to blame my sister for teaching me that lesson.