When I was little, my dream job was to be an author and illustrator. I wrote short stories as a kid, and published a few poems in high school. Now, I am a published author and illustrator and have accomplished my childhood aspirations. As an adolescent I was shy, sensitive, quiet, and mostly private with my emotions. Behind closed doors I was often irritable, angry and depressed, until it was time to sleep and the tears rolled down my face. I rarely smiled in public, but my family saw me for who I truly was and I am so grateful for each member. I lived and laughed and adventured. I didn’t know why I was crying, or where the stomach aches and dread came from. I was more often a happy kid with amazing parents and wonderful sisters who always had my back. So where did these tears originate?
I suppose that because I speak freely; I jump from one thought train to the next; and I never run out of words; I am able to write down the details that form instantly with the tap of my fingers on the keys. I used to write it all down on college ruled paper, not the typed words readily produced by a computer and printer. There was not a computer at my disposal. Write it down. That is what I used to do. Then there was the typewriter. The unpublished children’s books I wrote and illustrated as a child were pieced together and illustrated with my sister’s help. I would write it all down, page by page as the ideas flowed effortlessly from my mind onto the paper. My little sister, Kimberly, would sit with me in my room and we would read the stories I wrote. She has always been thoughtful, generous and kind. She has one of the most active, vivid imaginations I have seen in my life. She helped with creative suggestions for the illustrations. Kimberly became a reader, writer, artist, and high school English teacher when she grew up. I was not surprised. I suspect she is correcting my grammar and punctuation right now.
Writing and illustrating have always been so important to me. Art is my world. It is easier to understand a puzzle or stumbling block when I create. Most of the time I don’t know what I am feeling until I read it in my own handwriting. Whatever I have going on inside sprouts up and grows on a page in prose. It is therapeutic. Writing those stories helped strengthen the bond between me and my sister, and ultimately became a huge part of who I am today.
Thank you, Kimberly. I am forever grateful for the part you have played in my life.
I hope that reading my words is helpful to others. Writing it all down is the best advice I can offer. I have changed so much since that day in elementary school when I dressed up as an author and illustrator for “Career Day.” I am no longer the shy, quiet wallflower of my past. Now I speak every thought as it appears in my mind. Writing it all down helps me focus on what I really want to say. I no longer use my typewriter and have upgraded to a laptop, but my message is the same. Love your sisters unconditionally; don’t take anyone or anything for granted; never forget who you were, are, and will be. Write it down, and remember.