In the beginning…

Mom_thumbnail_7Folk ’round here have been talking about how they got started as writers. So, since it’s Sunday, and I’m Edith, I’ll jump in.

Though I always say I started writing when I was ten, upon sober thought (not the best kind, but often righter than the other kind) I actuallly started when I was seven, the summer that my family exiled me to Stalag Summer Camp. Which is how I thought of it.

I hated summer camp. Granted, it wasn’t a well-run camp. The adolescent counsellors had more interest in each other and the nightly boozy smoochie parties they had in their quarters.

And the lake, which had looked so inviting to the parents, was actually sectioned off so that the campers only swam in the narrow, crowded “crib” – a horrid, slimy bottomed and doubtless pee pee filled “learners” swim premises. And apart from making lanyards, and scratching poison ivy, the biggest event of the season was Color War, in which the camp was divided into Red and Bue and proceeded to compete, chant against and hate each other on the basis of arbitrary color for the rest of the season.

So I ran away – in my head. I took a notebook and filled it with a novel about a girl who was sent to camp and ran away and went to live with charming and amusing ‘hillbillies” who loved her for all her charm, brightness and interesting innovations.

I also had heart wrenching segue-ways every chapter or two, showing her parents and sibs grieving, regetting every bad thing they’d ever done to our heroine.

When I ran out of words, I illustrated. It was wonderful.

The book was lost in a move a few years later. But looking back, it was the most satisfactory escape I ever experienced.

No wonder I became a novelist. (And next time I’ll tell how I went from zero to published!)

Imagination is the best revenge. And putting it down on paper makes it realer.

Have you ever tried it?

24 thoughts on “In the beginning…”

  1. Ah, summer camp. Boy did it suck. I only went to one. My aunt talked my mother into sending me along with my cousins. Did I mention that this is my crazy “born again” aunt who believes TV is “of the devil”?
    Oh, yeah. They took all my books away when I arrived and handed me a bible. I proceeded to read it cover to cover four times (they refused to give me the tokens for chapter reading–which were the only way to get candy while you were there–cause I didn’t seem to be devout enough).
    I made sure when I was a counselor that my kids had FUN!

    Reply
  2. Ah, summer camp. Boy did it suck. I only went to one. My aunt talked my mother into sending me along with my cousins. Did I mention that this is my crazy “born again” aunt who believes TV is “of the devil”?
    Oh, yeah. They took all my books away when I arrived and handed me a bible. I proceeded to read it cover to cover four times (they refused to give me the tokens for chapter reading–which were the only way to get candy while you were there–cause I didn’t seem to be devout enough).
    I made sure when I was a counselor that my kids had FUN!

    Reply
  3. Ah, summer camp. Boy did it suck. I only went to one. My aunt talked my mother into sending me along with my cousins. Did I mention that this is my crazy “born again” aunt who believes TV is “of the devil”?
    Oh, yeah. They took all my books away when I arrived and handed me a bible. I proceeded to read it cover to cover four times (they refused to give me the tokens for chapter reading–which were the only way to get candy while you were there–cause I didn’t seem to be devout enough).
    I made sure when I was a counselor that my kids had FUN!

    Reply
  4. I was so jealous of the kids who went to summer camp. I’m not anymore, Edith. But I did escape into my imagination and wrote down stories involving parents or friends who deeply regretted their heartless cruelty to the poor, innocent princess me, who went on to live happily elsewhere in beautiful gowns, which I created in crayon and paint.

    Reply
  5. I was so jealous of the kids who went to summer camp. I’m not anymore, Edith. But I did escape into my imagination and wrote down stories involving parents or friends who deeply regretted their heartless cruelty to the poor, innocent princess me, who went on to live happily elsewhere in beautiful gowns, which I created in crayon and paint.

    Reply
  6. I was so jealous of the kids who went to summer camp. I’m not anymore, Edith. But I did escape into my imagination and wrote down stories involving parents or friends who deeply regretted their heartless cruelty to the poor, innocent princess me, who went on to live happily elsewhere in beautiful gowns, which I created in crayon and paint.

    Reply
  7. Being a bored kid living on a farm, I was delighted to go to camp when I had the chance. It was a chance to -do- something over the summer!
    (In fact, on our recent trip to Portugal, my sister, another camp veteran, discovered another woman who had gone to the YMCA camp at Silver Lake! They sang the camp song, too. I refrained, though I must say that I remembered all the words and the tune. )
    Our camp was fun, but yourse does sound singularly grim. Still, if it got you writing, it wasn’t a total loss. 🙂
    Mary Jo, looking forward to the rest of the story next week!

    Reply
  8. Being a bored kid living on a farm, I was delighted to go to camp when I had the chance. It was a chance to -do- something over the summer!
    (In fact, on our recent trip to Portugal, my sister, another camp veteran, discovered another woman who had gone to the YMCA camp at Silver Lake! They sang the camp song, too. I refrained, though I must say that I remembered all the words and the tune. )
    Our camp was fun, but yourse does sound singularly grim. Still, if it got you writing, it wasn’t a total loss. 🙂
    Mary Jo, looking forward to the rest of the story next week!

    Reply
  9. Being a bored kid living on a farm, I was delighted to go to camp when I had the chance. It was a chance to -do- something over the summer!
    (In fact, on our recent trip to Portugal, my sister, another camp veteran, discovered another woman who had gone to the YMCA camp at Silver Lake! They sang the camp song, too. I refrained, though I must say that I remembered all the words and the tune. )
    Our camp was fun, but yourse does sound singularly grim. Still, if it got you writing, it wasn’t a total loss. 🙂
    Mary Jo, looking forward to the rest of the story next week!

    Reply
  10. I too always envied the kids that went away to camp in the summer. With so many children to provide for (8), my parents didn’t have the funds to send any of us.
    When I was 19 I got to go, but as an employee. I started as a cook’s helper but found myself teaching canoing and helping out in the different cabins. I had fun, but I was still homesick!
    It’s been 22 years since that summer. The camp is still going and I’ve returned to visit with the Nuns that run it.
    I didn’t write books during that long ago summer though, maybe I was too busy having fun with the other counselors on my days off!
    Too bad there weren’t any guys working at the camp! A no, no with the Catholic Nuns… (even the boy campers had to stop coming once over the age of 11)

    Reply
  11. I too always envied the kids that went away to camp in the summer. With so many children to provide for (8), my parents didn’t have the funds to send any of us.
    When I was 19 I got to go, but as an employee. I started as a cook’s helper but found myself teaching canoing and helping out in the different cabins. I had fun, but I was still homesick!
    It’s been 22 years since that summer. The camp is still going and I’ve returned to visit with the Nuns that run it.
    I didn’t write books during that long ago summer though, maybe I was too busy having fun with the other counselors on my days off!
    Too bad there weren’t any guys working at the camp! A no, no with the Catholic Nuns… (even the boy campers had to stop coming once over the age of 11)

    Reply
  12. I too always envied the kids that went away to camp in the summer. With so many children to provide for (8), my parents didn’t have the funds to send any of us.
    When I was 19 I got to go, but as an employee. I started as a cook’s helper but found myself teaching canoing and helping out in the different cabins. I had fun, but I was still homesick!
    It’s been 22 years since that summer. The camp is still going and I’ve returned to visit with the Nuns that run it.
    I didn’t write books during that long ago summer though, maybe I was too busy having fun with the other counselors on my days off!
    Too bad there weren’t any guys working at the camp! A no, no with the Catholic Nuns… (even the boy campers had to stop coming once over the age of 11)

    Reply
  13. Like Jaclyne, I missed out on camp, too. My parents had 9 kids. I was, for bettor or worse, the first. Where were you in the pecking order, Jaclyne?
    I wish I could lay claim to many spiral bound notebooks lying about filled with childhood musings, but I can not. I did write speeches as a tween. Think SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD. In my tiny world of private school, home and church, it was all the rage. When I was about 15, I wrote a short story about a girl who had a nightmare about hell and how she used the experience to persuade others. (Thank the Father above that I possess the only known copy) The schoolmaster was so impressed by my work, he handed me the Founder’s Award. It was a big deal, in my world at least. With my English teacher’s encouragement, I sent the story to Reader’s Digest. (Now you know how long ago this was. *g*) About a month or so later, I received a rejection letter from a very kind editor who encouraged me to continue writing. At the bottom she hand wrote something I will never forget. Remember, stories are about characters that change. I have never been the same since.
    –Nina, enjoying everyone’s stories and looking forward the the rest of Edith’s.

    Reply
  14. Like Jaclyne, I missed out on camp, too. My parents had 9 kids. I was, for bettor or worse, the first. Where were you in the pecking order, Jaclyne?
    I wish I could lay claim to many spiral bound notebooks lying about filled with childhood musings, but I can not. I did write speeches as a tween. Think SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD. In my tiny world of private school, home and church, it was all the rage. When I was about 15, I wrote a short story about a girl who had a nightmare about hell and how she used the experience to persuade others. (Thank the Father above that I possess the only known copy) The schoolmaster was so impressed by my work, he handed me the Founder’s Award. It was a big deal, in my world at least. With my English teacher’s encouragement, I sent the story to Reader’s Digest. (Now you know how long ago this was. *g*) About a month or so later, I received a rejection letter from a very kind editor who encouraged me to continue writing. At the bottom she hand wrote something I will never forget. Remember, stories are about characters that change. I have never been the same since.
    –Nina, enjoying everyone’s stories and looking forward the the rest of Edith’s.

    Reply
  15. Like Jaclyne, I missed out on camp, too. My parents had 9 kids. I was, for bettor or worse, the first. Where were you in the pecking order, Jaclyne?
    I wish I could lay claim to many spiral bound notebooks lying about filled with childhood musings, but I can not. I did write speeches as a tween. Think SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD. In my tiny world of private school, home and church, it was all the rage. When I was about 15, I wrote a short story about a girl who had a nightmare about hell and how she used the experience to persuade others. (Thank the Father above that I possess the only known copy) The schoolmaster was so impressed by my work, he handed me the Founder’s Award. It was a big deal, in my world at least. With my English teacher’s encouragement, I sent the story to Reader’s Digest. (Now you know how long ago this was. *g*) About a month or so later, I received a rejection letter from a very kind editor who encouraged me to continue writing. At the bottom she hand wrote something I will never forget. Remember, stories are about characters that change. I have never been the same since.
    –Nina, enjoying everyone’s stories and looking forward the the rest of Edith’s.

    Reply
  16. Did we go to the same summer camp? Mine also had endless color war. I remember being miserable, miserable.- I think I had to go for about six summers.
    With deepest empathy for your experiences. Sometimes it’s really nice being an adult.
    Merry

    Reply
  17. Did we go to the same summer camp? Mine also had endless color war. I remember being miserable, miserable.- I think I had to go for about six summers.
    With deepest empathy for your experiences. Sometimes it’s really nice being an adult.
    Merry

    Reply
  18. Did we go to the same summer camp? Mine also had endless color war. I remember being miserable, miserable.- I think I had to go for about six summers.
    With deepest empathy for your experiences. Sometimes it’s really nice being an adult.
    Merry

    Reply

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