When I was very young, I made up stories that I acted out with my dolls and stuffed animals. Sometimes I shared those stories with my parents; more often, I just kept them to myself. I lived in a very elaborate imaginary world, populated by imaginary people who sometimes seemed more real than the people I knew. I learned to read early, and I was determined that someday, my stories would be in books like the ones I read.
When I got a bit older, I learned how to make those little squiggles called “letters,” and that unlocked a whole new dimension for my stories. I could put them on paper and keep them to read later! Not only that, but I could share them with more people! The first story I remember writing, when I was five, was about a girl named Maria who went to live with her uncle. I wish I still had that story, but alas, it was lost to a flooded basement when I was eight or nine.
In kindergarten, I had a wonderful teacher who allowed me to read books from the classroom library and draw pictures about the stories as part of my reading curriculum. One day, I wrote my own story based on a picture I’d drawn, and she began encouraging me to write more stories. It was the first time an adult had told me my stories were good and had acted like they were something to be proud of.
So basically, I’ve been creating stories my entire life, and I’ve been writing them down since I learned how. Obviously I haven’t been published that entire time. My first published work, a phonics-based reading comprehension program, came out in 2002 (and 16 years later is still available!), and my first novella came out in 2009 (and is no longer available). But as a child and teen, I wrote dozens of stories, some novel-length, many of which I still have. They aren’t as good as I thought they were back then, but I’m still proud of them. Especially since I wrote them all longhand…computers weren’t available to me back then!