Who Needs a Secret Garden

A young friend reminded me of the pure joy I felt years ago when first beginning to write. Think back, especially if you’re female, to those stories in the pre-teen and early teen years. I was telling stories long before that, but I’m talking here about those first purposeful creations.

There were no thoughts about character arc, plot arc, believable dialog.No editing, no worrying about a future audience, a critique partner, a writer’s group. Instead there was that secret thrill of a story I had control over, that was mine. I could give myself adventures that I would never have tried in real life. The kid I had a crush on would not only notice me, but we’d head off on a grand adventure. The heartbreaking drama that left me in tears could be rewritten into a tale where I knew just what to say. It was total control during a time when girls feel not in control of anything. Not emotions, body, life. All that could be escaped by slipping into that dream world and living in the story.

I’m not talking here about those people with imaginary worlds that take over their life, or keep them closeted away while life flows by. What I’m talking about is something I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to get so caught up in syntax and grammar and structure, that I lose the deep happiness of stepping into that story world.

My young friend wrote a story about a boy she ‘might, or might not’ have a crush on. Does that bring back memories? Does that bring a smile to you? A secret smile, thinking about an old story you may have written? I’m picturing paper covered in pencil, full of adventure and dreams, paper that allowed me to control the things I feared, things I was uncertain about, changes I didn’t want.

Writing gave me power in an age when there was very little I had control over. When I think of the stories now, they make me laugh. They were so badly written. But so wonderful.

And there were several stories written and shared at teenage girl slumber parties about the photo below.

3 thoughts on “Who Needs a Secret Garden

  1. My best friend and I wrote and told elaborate stories of our imaginary boyfriends, Thomas and Christopher. She and I would sit alone on the bleachers during lunch, lost in our story. Years later, I caught myself thinking of Christopher as if he was a real boy I once dated.


  2. That’s so funny. Did you keep your stories about Christopher? Do you find parts of him become resurrected in your current male characters? The friend I was referring to told me she’s been spending recess off writing and at first I was worried that she was going to isolate herself too much. But then she said other girls are joining her with their own paper and pens. I sense a little writer’s group forming, and they aren’t even aware of it.


  3. I still have the notes she and I passed to one another during class– they read like co-written narrative. Very fun. I don’t know about you, but my idea of things was very hmmm shall we say limited? back then and Christopher is, as a result, a bit of a cardboard character, not a lot of depth (but I had never been on a date before, so I forgive). Hopefully, my men have evolved a bit from him (cromagnon boyfriend, a lot like the boy in Blue Lagoon!) but the experience was deep for my friend and I and we still feel strongly connected by our imaginations. A wonderful way to connect with people, I say. (LOVED the Bay City Rollers!)


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