It's Kendra, and I want to tell you that this post is really, REALLY personal. Taylor's diving deep into her past, and if childhood mistreatment is something that triggers you? Maybe you skip today's post.
I've been thinking up stories for as long as I can remember. My childhood was anything but easy. I was physically and verbally abused by my step-father, who'd whip me with his belt for the smallest grievances and called me stupid as I struggled with my homework, especially with math. My brothers supported me as best they could, but it was my active imagination which provided me an escape..
We grew up in a run down little house. Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much money. I remember sharing a room and a bunk bed with my youngest brother, Anthony. Every afternoon, once our homework was done, we'd cozy up in our little bedroom and play a video game. We couldn't afford a second controller. Instead of taking turns as other children would, I came up with a better idea. I'd sit beside Anthony and invent my own character, her backstory and personality, then insert that character into the game. That way, I could still be a part of the fun even when I couldn't be. None of my brothers minded. In fact, they came to encourage it. And thus, the stories began.
I didn’t start writing stories until I hit middle school, until I read "A Dog's Life" by Anne M. Martine. It was a powerful read and the first chapter book I'd ever read. It was my Father who helped me realize that a book is like a movie, but you're the one who comes up with the content on the screen of your imagination.
How I got to writing is interesting; at least, I think it is. My writing teacher, Miss Pavone, assigned us homework. She insisted we use ten words we didn't know in ten separate sentences. Once I discovered storytelling, as opposed to simply writing, that assignment became sorta boring to me. I wasn't challenged enough as a new writer. So, innocent girl I was, I kindly asked Miss Pavone if I could write stories instead, not at all realizing that her answer would change my life forever.
Inspired by "A Dog's Life", I began writing my own dog stories using the new words provided in my weekly homework. Looking back, I realize that I was doing more work than any other student. It wasn’t because I had to but because I wanted to. Because I had the drive, the passion, the will to do the work. And, I had Miss Pavone, who nourished that passion.
When my history teacher, Miss Johnson, recommended "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusack near the end of my freshman year of high-school, she truly changed the way I wrote as well as why I wrote. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking, life-changing read, a story of a girl growing up in Nazi Germany, befriending a hidden Jew and discovering the power of words. I was both entranced and taken aback by the book's exploration of the beauty and the cruelness of humanity from the first page till the last. This book, with its explorations of mature themes and the complexity of humanity, launched me into a new phase of my writing.
I wrote down everything I saw, from little children who laughed and played around me (ASU Prep was a K -12 school) to the homeless men and women struggling to survive - the beauty and cruelty of human existence. I also started writing down the events of my own life, dating the pages accordingly and noting every last detail. I captured the moments of my life as one catches fireflies, searching for the tiny flecks of light in the darkness of my childhood trauma.