When I talk at schools or libraries, budding young writers often ask, “Did you always want to be a writer?” I don’t say no outright because it’s clear that there is only one thing the person wants to hear: “YES! I always wanted to be a writer JUST LIKE YOU DO! And if you work hard, someday your name will be on a book jacket, too!”

I understand the longing to be a writer — I didn’t just wake up one morning to discover I had written a bunch of novels — although I never considered trying to make a career out of it until long after I’d finished college. But does drive matter most, or is it all about innate talent?

diary I recently discovered a cache of my old journals. I’ve already destroyed most of them, so don’t get excited, but I will share a few excerpts from a diary begun when I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. Did my sophisticated prose and astute observations foretell a future writing career? You be the judge.


Wed, Jan 4, 1978: Today my book bag broke. My books were falling out of it. I left my lunch at home. Chris F. gave me ½ sandwich. I was thirsty. Davitta J. told me she thought my hair was cute, but she liked it better the other way.

Thurs, Jan 5: Today was Mom’s birthday. When I got home from school I gave her the picture of the TV room. She liked it. We got a cake at the bakery. Sue made onion soup. Dad got home late with no present. Mom was mad.

Fri, Jan 6: Went in early this morning to English to work on verbs. In English, I was one of the people furthest, so I got a mint. Dad sent Mom flowers. Asked Tom about broken tape recorder, and he said it just needed new batteries.

Sun, Jan 8: Went to church. Saw Jonathan G. We ignored each other. When we got home I did my homework and my speech for Speech and Drama on cartoons. My ear is infected and I can’t get my earring on. I am worried about it. I called Betsy about it.

Mon, Jan 9: Only got 4 ½ hours of sleep last night. Was very tired this morning. Don’t have to give speech in S&D till tomorrow. After school I went down to Somer’s Jewelers with Mom. He said it was only a scab. He took it off and put my earrings back in. My ears had started to close up and it hurt. The roads were icy so C.C.D. was cancelled.

Tues Jan 10: Did speech. No one paid attention to mine or anyone else’s.

Consider this. At age twelve I:

1. Went into school early to work on verbs.

2. Had already formed an association between cranking out the most words and getting snacks.

3. Couldn’t figure out whether a mechanical device was broken or just needed a battery.

4. Was a bit of a hypochondriac.

5. Kept a diary.

A future writer in the making? I think it’s obvious.