On July 24th, 2014, Tracy Lynn Tobin wrote an article titled In The Summer Of (A Writer’s) Life in which writers are placed into one of the four seasons; Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, based upon what stage of their writing career they best assimilate with.
I started writing, seriously, in the early 1990’s, during a very tumultuous time in my life. In the 90’s, I spent my summers at summer camp, which was a welcome reprieve from the hell I experienced from bullying in the public school system.
In 1994, my parents sent me away to boarding school because they genuinely cared about my education. It was there that I learned of my gift and passion for writing, and the first two years went by fine. I missed being home dearly, and I resented a lot of the strict rules and regulations which were presented in a 50-page student handbook. One of the rules required us to carry a copy of the handbook with us everywhere we went, at all times.
I’m reminded of this time in my life as it coincides with the article about the seasons. When I first started to take my writing seriously, the year was 1996, and I began to journal, secretly, about my day-to-day experiences at boarding school. By 1997, I had turned my journal into a private makeshift confessional, where I would detail my hopes, fears, secrets, and more importantly, the detailed accounts of physical abuse and bullying I was enduring at the time.
By 1998, my senior year, the abuse had suddenly escalated to sexual abuse, and my journal, now kept in a locked box, held the written accounts of continued sexual abuse, and named my abuser. I did this journal mostly to maintain my sanity, but perhaps also as a means of recording daily events should the unthinkable happen and I was unable to speak for myself.
That same year, I went off to college. According to the schedule of seasons, I was still stuck in Spring; a young, inexperienced writer with unlimited amounts of free time to write. I wrote so much that in my young and very naive mind, I thought that I might get my journals published as a memoir and that the title would be The Contents Of My Head. I should mention that at the time, I was battling a lot of inner demons. The repeated physical and sexual abuse at boarding school brought up deeply repressed memories of sexual abuse I endured as a child. I wound up in a deep well of severe depression, and while it fueled my writing considerably, none of it made much sense at all.
I lived like shit in the 90’s; my summers I spent working at the summer camp I had attended as a child; I returned every summer in an effort to try and re-live the days when I was young and happy, without much success. I continued to write as much as I could, whenever I could. The years went slowly by, I left my summer camp job halfway through one summer and never returned to college the following semester. By all accounts I was a complete mess, and yet I strangely fit the stereotype of a typical writer.
I remember clawing for some sort of stability in my life though I lacked focus or direction. I surrounded myself with people I thought were my friends, only to be used and be taken advantage of for my good nature. For over a decade I felt lost, a stranger in my own life who was more an outsider than anything else.
It wasn’t until quite recently that I, “graduated” and can now proclaim with sincerity and confidence that I’m a summer writer; one with experience, ideas, and goals, but one faced with overwhelming responsibilities and distractions that take precious time and energy away from ones writing pursuits.
I often think back to the early days when I first started to take my writing seriously, and it seems so amazing hoe I was able to come so far, so fast, and I often wonder where I might be in 10, 20, or even 30 years from now.
(For the record, I destroyed my journals from my high school and college years by ripping them to shreds and then one-at-a-time tossing the torn-up pages into a fire.) I found myself reading the journals on an almost daily basis, worrying about my past instead of focusing on my future. I am, however, still looking for my summer camp letters and journals; I often reminisce about the good old days, that is, at least five minutes out of every single day. I keep a journal of memories, but will the memories die while I’m waiting for someone else to help me remember the details that I have missed? Sadly, I don’t have very many pictures, just memories that seem more and more faded as with each passing season, as those who experienced those events and memories with me become even more distant, and we slowly grow old.