The other day I was going through some of my old, childhood things when I came upon the "books" that I had written between the ages of 8 and 12. "The Island of the Magical Dolphins." "Lost in the Woods." "The Ape Factory." "The Trip to the Doctor." "The Camp Out." "The Path of the Blood-footed Creature."
After the discovery of these precious treasures, the process of packing my belongings to move took much longer than expected. Rather than gathering my things to pack into boxes, I sat alone in my basement, relaxed in my purple beanbag chair and read book after book–all written by the young, aspiring writer, Ericka Sell.
Though some "books" consist of a paragraph, others a few pages and one even 15 pages, each book is complete with detailed illustrations, a page of contents, page numbers and, of course, an "about the author" section with my soccer photo glued–very generously–to the last page.
As I read through the stories, I first began to laugh–to laugh at my young, silly, naive self, the ways in which I tried to make my books appear so legitimate, the way in which I dedicated one book to my dog. But as I read on, I recognized a different part of this writing that had never occurred to me before. Rather than look down upon my past writing, I began to admire my former self. I realized that these were the beginnings of what would be a life-long career and aspiration for me.
As I read, among the plots about an island of talking dolphins, a world where apes ruled and a girl who traveled to a different world through her bathtub, I longed to go back to that time in my life – to that time when my imagination ran wild and nothing was impossible, to that time when I wasn’t afraid to try a new idea or write a story, even if it did have a crazy plot about a web-footed creature who stomped around the neighborhood hunting for children to eat.
I have always admired syndicated writers and famous columnists from the New York Times and other major publications. But now, staring at a book made of blue construction paper tied together with pink ribbon on the side, I began to admire myself. Commending my creativeness and audacity, I began to take mental notes of advice from an 8-year-old.
Though I have always been interested in writing, I have only been seriously writing journalistic stories since my freshman year when I attended Luther College. After writing for the college newspaper CHIPS, I changed my major from elementary education to journalism, at which point I transferred to CSS and enthusiastically entered the journalism program.
Since I began my journalism career writing for the Luther College newspaper, I have since written for The Cable, Woman Today magazine and am currently completing an editorial internship at the nationally published Cabin Life magazine. So what does the future hold for me? That’s a very good question, one that I feel many and most college students are trying to answer. But my dream: Be granted syndication as a columnist for an acclaimed newspaper.
As I enter my final year as a journalism major and am about to enter the "real world," making very grown-up decisions–like moving out–I am taken back to my childhood, where I have realized that though we are told to move forward, it’s important to remember our roots, where we came from, because this can shed light on why we’re doing what we want to do.
Though I’ve learned so much in my college writing experiences, I have been a writer at heart since I was a young child, and I need to remember my roots. Though I may not wear a bob hair-cut and refuse to take showers, I still am that creative, fearless writer who is proud of what I do.
That afternoon was a strong reminder of why I do what I do. Though I could have sat there and read all afternoon, I knew I had to get packing, and I headed upstairs. On my way up the stairs I threw a number of stuffed animals and blow-up bath toys into a box labeled "goodwill." Then, I carefully placed my childhood books in a box labeled "fragile."