Childhood Calls to the Writing Life

dm-la-cumbre-yearbook-staff

My buddies and me, junior high school yearbook staff, 1974.

 

When you look back on your childhood, do you find glimpses of your passion for your current calling?

I’m finding them, and it’s a fascinating review.

The love of writing has always been part of my life, when I think of it now, but I never gave thought to pursuing writing as a career. No teacher ever directed me towards writing. My mother was grooming me to become a lawyer. I finally started to take my writing seriously only a few years ago, when I was in my late forties. Yet, putting ideas down on paper has always been my favorite and most rewarding activity.

As a child, I didn’t think about being a writer. I just wrote.

Comic Books

When I see Marvel Comics movies, like The Avengers, I remember the comic books my siblings and I would create. A pencil, a piece of paper, and our imaginations were the tools we used for our superhero world. We held paper against a window pane to trace drawings from real comic books and put our own words into the speech bubbles.

Newspapers

Using my father’s old typewriter, my siblings and I published a newspaper for a fictional town. We’d make up stories about local crime or review the newest cereal, and we’d include a comic strip and the weather report. Then we’d cut and paste (literally) and be proud of our work.

Plays

While attending a summer camp, I wrote, directed, and starred in a play that I called Stuck Foot. It was my first and only play. I wrote it because the camp counselor needed something for the final night. The success of that play stoked my 12-year-old ego, but it wasn’t because I was proud of my writing. I liked the warmth of the limelight.

Song Lyrics

My family is full of musicians, and I was writing silly song lyrics at an early age. In my teens, though, I decided on a singing career. I picked up a guitar, taught myself to play, and began writing pop songs — which, when you get down to it, are really three-minute stories.

School Newspaper and Yearbook Staff

When I look back now, I see that junior high school is when my love for writing flourished. I joined my friends in these extracurricular activities, but my real focus (secretly) was on that singing dream. I had no thoughts of myself being a “writer”. Yet there I was in the thick of it as I submitted articles, came up with photo captions, and enjoyed being part of a creative team of budding writers.

Reports and Essay Questions

There was no schoolwork I relished more than reports. I loved the organization and work outside the classroom that they required. Book reports, research reports – bring ‘em on. And the topic didn’t matter; it was the process I enjoyed. I felt like I was using the teacher’s questions to create a work of art. And I carried that childhood love into my college years. For me, it was a waste of good thinking time when midterms and finals consisted of multiple choice questions only. Give me essay questions. Having to carry a blue book into an exam ensured I would have time to show what I learned in a way that I enjoyed.

In retrospect, I see now that the call of “writer” had been whispered my way throughout my childhood. Was I ignoring that Voice? Or is recognizing it now a confirmation of what I’m doing today?

Good questions.

What examples do you have of an early love for your calling in life?

Darla McDavid

I'm Darla, a writer of stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I love cats, coffee, gardening, and tall stacks of books. Click here to subscribe to my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. In my other life, I'm an administrative professional, a Sunday School teacher for preschoolers, and the proud mother of Dan.

8 Comments Write a comment

  1. I love this, Darla.
    One of my favorite childhood quotes by author Anne LaMott was about her grade school class picture. She said that just looking at her picture then, it was obvious she’d either grow up to be a writer or a serial killer.

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  2. You still have that great smile, Darla! And you can’t miss Mr. Parker’s ‘stache. So ’70’s. I just got out my yearbook from La Cumbre Jr. High and a friend wrote about the “Clubs” in Mrs. Findley’s typing class–remember those? I think they started at 20 wpm and she hadn’t made it into a club yet.

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    • I do remember being in a typing club and being one of the fastest in the class. I was chosen to represent either La Cumbre or SBHS to compete in a citywide typing contest. On the day of the event, I slept in and skipped school, with no thought about the contest — completely forgot about it. My teacher couldn’t believe it.

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  3. Actually one of my very first childhood memories, but have been around 5 maybe even 4 is using my bed as a desk and “writing”, of coarse I do not remember what, but I am positive it was a story in my head. And I remember getting my very first library card when I was 6, no longer needing my dads. Actually you gave me a great memory to write about! Typing was always my best class too, although not as fast as you. I had always wanted to learn more about literature but it was not “cool” of coarse, now I can kick myself, but I am not letting an opportunity go to waste and I have been enjoying many classic books in my mature age, even enjoying some poetry!

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