Before having the desire to become a ballet dancer, I had the desire to become a writer. One summer, at the age of seven, I began writing poems and stories for an audience of one — my mother. I remember spending a good part of the hot summer’s day writing, so that when my mother returned from work, she would have something to read. I took myself very seriously, too. Back then, I referred to my writings as “manuscripts,” and these were meant to be read with great interest by sophisticated adults — not whimsical children!
My mother always had a bright red lipstick smile for me every morning when she left for work and, although tired and over-worked after the end of the day, she also had an equally bright red lipstick smile for me when she returned home. And this very clear image of my mother’s countenance — red lips and skin so soft — would propel me to prolifically produce poetry and “manuscripts” all through that summer.
Besides being an author, back then, I was also an illustrator, as these writings would also include original drawings. I still have a stack of these in a box, in a storage unit, in the United States. Before I left for Russia, I went through these papers. One was handwritten using colored pencils on lined school paper entitled, “Daddies.” It rhymed, too: “Daddies are great to have around the house because they aren’t scared of a mouse.” The illustration, accompanying the script, was of a dad towering over a precocious mouse and wagging his finger at it.
When I was eleven years old, my mom bought a manual typewriter for me. (“Manual” meaning, not “electric” — this was well before the PC.) I had taken a typing course that summer, in order to quicken my writing pace. Here, I was all ready to begin my writing career with my brand-new manual typewriter. I remember writing one “manuscript” after another.
One was about a girl named Gwen who was eleven years old, too. She would go on many adventures, such as, in an old mysterious house — not unlike adventures that I would have liked to have had. Another was about a secret agent who seemed to always find himself in a difficult predicament — like needing to scale a wall, in order to avoid further danger. A third was about a magician. I remember how it started out: “It was a cold and dreary day...”
But, one day, I realized that writing required a sequestering of self — a seemingly self-imposed exile, so to speak. I announced to my mother, “Writing is a lonely life!” And so, I packed up my little manual typewriter and stored it away — never to be tapped at again.
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