10/26/2011 12:39 pm ET | Updated Dec 26, 2011

The Little Writer Who Couldn't Spell: 30 Years of Bizarre Storytelling

After exorcising my bowl cut demons, I set out to unearth my storytelling roots.

One day in the very distant future, having published countless obscure and arguably entertaining stories, people will want to know how it all began. At the very least, my friends and family will, as evidenced by the fact that they regularly ask not-so-subtle questions about whether my New York law license may be easily reactivated.

Now I've got you wondering: Was I the sort of bookish child that elected to read on the outer perimeter of the school playground during recess, neglecting social opportunities like four square and cooties wars? Did I keep journals? Write poetry? Direct younger children in neighborhood plays?

Definitely not, that's lame; never; unsuccessfully; and occasionally, but they rarely heeded my instruction.

Truth be told, I spent the majority of my time gossiping, making friends and occasional boyfriends, playing sports but always failing, and watching a lot of television. So much television that my parents instituted fascist restrictions, all the while bemoaning my rotting brain. My protests, which ultimately sounded something like "Only Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld understand me," fell on deafened ears.


During a recent trip home, my Mom shared with me the spoils of one of her nostalgic digs around the house: two frayed notebooks, one belonging to my brother, the other to me.

Upon reading the notebooks' inscriptions, we ascertained that these were our first grade journals, the place where we'd record homework, creative ideas, and whatever else jumped into our small, eccentric heads.

My brother's notebook was, unsurprisingly, filled with detailed sketchings and hilarious remarks, including "I just want to survive" when asked what he sought to accomplish during his first year of elementary school.

Mine can only be described as vaguely embarrassing and intensely alarming; it's a wonder my parents allowed me to progress beyond the first grade given that I was unable or unwilling to produce complete sentences. Every remark and drawing revolved around cats, though I couldn't seem to draw (or spell) one.

"Good God," I exclaimed, envisioning the field day future critics would have with these posthumous scribblings as I internally likened myself to J.D. Salinger, "There must be something else. Didn't I ever write anything more, you know, substantive?"

She pulled from her treasure trove a rectangular slip of pink paper, bearing the title, "If I were a Giant."

It transported me to my kindergarten years at the Acorn School, a bastion of creativity and unstructured play that spoiled me, ill-preparing me for life's harsher realities, including deadlines and tasks that cannot be solved with recess powwows and candy. When they weren't admonishing me for speaking baby talk (which I still do, mainly to my cat), the Acorn teachers gravitated towards activities of the verbal variety, keenly aware that kindergartners enjoy telling stories aloud.


(In case you're wondering, I'm the one smirking from the second row, donning my infamous bowl cut.)

Every few months, they transcribed our thoughts on a particular subject. One of the first, no doubt inspired by Roald Dahl's BFG (Big Friendly Giant), recorded our giant-themed fantasies, though mine were anything but friendly.


Although I'm tempted, I probably shouldn't congratulate my younger self for using proper conditional language when my ramblings were so obviously psychotic, but at least I had a vivid imagination.

Hair horns? Deer meat clothes? Eating people with honey?

I'd obviously spent too much time watching the Island of the Blue Dolphins, or was I presciently anticipating The Odyssey? I'll let the critics decide.