When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a story with all my classmates in it. First, let me tell you: there were only 23 other students at the time, so it wasn’t too crazy. Anyway, I drew this extremely detailed map based in this fictitious world I had made. There were towns, and rivers, and coves, and train tracks that ran across bays, and mountains—the whole shebang. I brought this extremely detailed map to school and I would ask my friends to choose a town or a place for them to originate from. Some people thought it was weird—quite a few—but a lot of people got really into it, and even chose names and background stories for themselves. I would sit down every day after school and write pages of poorly constructed plots where my friends and I went on silly adventures. This went on for awhile. I managed to write 23 pages of size-ten Time’s New Roman font, justified, single spaced. And one day, the computer crashed and it was all gone.
Honestly, my father was more devastated than I was when it happened. He came to my room with a sad look on his face, and told me the grave news of the computer no longer turning on. “Lissy, your story is gone!” He looked near tears. I consoled him, told him it was going to be alright, that I would write another story—better, I promised. But since then, I hadn’t really written a story quite like it. The story I wrote was written with no expectations. I wrote it for fun, letting my imagination take me and my friends on wild journeys. I wasn’t worried about it making sense or having a deep and profound meaning. I certainly wasn’t worried if I was grammatically correct, or even interesting. I wrote with abandon. The stories that followed after that were different. They had this delicate censure manipulating their course. I’m not saying that I didn’t ever write anything as good; the opposite occurred. I wrote better plots, with better style, and with a mature sense of what a “theme” is. But I never finished one. Many times, if I told someone what the story was about, I was suddenly relieved of the story, and the need to write it down passed. Every story that I wrote began with the same title: Chapter 1. Many stories didn’t pass one page, many grew to a length of 30 pages. However, none were ever finished.
The period of time between stories written grew, and soon, a whole year had passed since I had attempted to make another. I still haven’t. Over the break, however, I drew a map—a map based in a fictitious world. It had rivers, and streets, and homes, and mountains, and oceans, and deserts, and wonder. I thought maybe growing up meant leaving those beautiful worlds behind, and so I must leave the stories there too. Maybe not.