I just got this idea: to recall how my journey of writing actually began. It did long before I knew what a writer is, and how fun it all can be.
My love for the written word began, you can say, before I was born. My mother was studying for her literature exams a mere two weeks before my birth. So when growing up I developed the habit of reading and writing, my mother called me Shakespeare’s daughter (and sometimes still does). However, my real fascination began when I read an excerpt from Anne Frank’s diary in our second standard’s English textbook. That’s how I fell in love words. The idea of keeping a diary excited me and I started writing one, though I reckon the habit barely lasted for a month.
A year later, we moved to Nagpur for a better life. The daily newspaper there supplied with it a weekly magazine for kids. I was immediately lured into a world of stories and jokes and amazing facts and quizzes, and for a long time, I had collected every single issue of the magazine, re-reading my favorite ones again and again.
Once I read in the magazine of a certain girl a few years older than me who had “come out with her book of 19 poems.” I was in the fourth standard then, and had written a handful of poems (that were, of course, rubbish, but meant the world to me back then.). The article sparked an idea. I thought, if she can do this, then why not me? I immediately started writing more poems, with the girl next door helping me to write it neatly on blank paper with sketch pens. Every afternoon, we sat together on the white-tiled floor and prepared my “manuscript.” I shared my idea of publishing my own book of poems to my mother, who advised me to save them all in a notebook. But not soon after, I let go of the idea of getting published, when mother told me it’s not easy to get published, though I continued to write poems once in a while.
The next piece I finished was a play that I wrote the same year (or perhaps the next). It was titled “Barbie and The Seven Princesses and Their Cruel Aunt”. It was nothing but Barbie and The Twelve Dancing Princesses revisited, without the magic and five less princesses. I tell you, it’s the worst story I have ever written. I was only proud of having written it for a couple of months. It was only years later that learned a new word: plagiarism.
Not long ago, I’d decided to throw away all the poems I’d written, considering what pieces of garbage they were, but then I realized that I’d be doing the worst thing I could ever do to my eight-year-old self, to who these lines of rhyme were more precious than dolls and new dresses. I could imagine that little Ratika crying a sea of tears on learning about the disappearance of her “pieces of art.”
And so the poems stayed. I lost some of them though, but the rest are safe in a word file in my folder, tiled, “My Little Poem Book.” And, anyways, it dawned on me that old pieces of one’s own writing can be used to compare one’s progress in writing from then to now. I, until recently, occasionally wrote poems, (they’re still just as bad) but now I know that I can’t really write poetry. I’ve stuck to only reading it now (I’ll never get bored of Wordsworth’s Twilight), and I think it’s the best for me. As for that play, I still have a hard copy of it, but the writer in me knows better. Short stories and vignettes are the safest bets for me.
And anything I write does not land in the dustbin, for they act like a progress report, and who knows, an idea I consider bad today might inspire one of the best stories I’ll ever write.