Writing with my Childhood Self

Today, I’m going to write freely and without concern.  This is difficult for me. When I write, I edit myself obsessively and find it difficult to get through a first draft without reviewing and revising after each sentence.  I know it’s a habit that makes the writing process more challenging than it ought to be.  But the mere acknowledgement of the issue has not prevented me from editing this introduction paragraph at least 30 times. The first step is admitting I have a problem.

I fear criticism.

There it is.

I know this fear is the very thing that oftentimes prevents me from enjoying the activity that has brought me a universe of happiness. I have loved to tell stories since I could remember. As a child, I wrote about pink lions in bathing suits and never concerned myself with who was going to read it. The adult me sweats over every word and doesn’t always delight in the creative process.

I’m going to stop now to write about a childhood memory. I will try to channel my inner kid and try to write without concern.

Be Right Back.

10 minutes elapsed

Ok. I’m glad I didn’t set myself a time limit. I knew what I was going to write about before starting but I still hesitated for a few seconds before I just forced my fingers to move.  After about 8 minutes I just stopped.  I read through it once and capitalized two words.

I wasn’t 4 years old.

I was 3.

Read on.

Writing with my Childhood Self

“My house burned down today. I am 4 years old. Last night it was hot and I played with my sister and her doll got wet from the pump*.  Mami didn’t let us run in the street and play with the pump because she was worried that boys might want to touch us or steal us. I really wanted to play with the water. My sister’s doll got wet because Mami started throwing water at us from the kitchen sink. She had water in bowl outside and kept splashing us with the water so that we could feel like we were playing in the pump with the rest of the kids.  Mami started blowing bubbles and one got into my eyes and they burned.   

I remember hearing sirens and yelling outside while we were on the sidewalk playing. It was like that a lot in the hot weather on Karlov street. We lived near Armitage and Pulaski in Chicago, IL.  I remember my sister and her doll but I don’t remember her face. If I see a picture now I can remember her. I don’t remember the baby.

It was me, the baby, my sister and Mami in the house sleeping.  I just remember hearing crackling like popcorn at night. I remember Mami grabbing me and running and I don’t know if my little sister was in her arms or not. I just remember Mami leaving me outside and running back inside the house.  My godmother and godfather lived up the block and I ran to their house. When I ran to their house I saw fireworks on the back of my house. I was so scared. I was worried about my pink big wheel bike. 

I remember seeing the firemen carrying a stretcher with my sister. She was all dusty and grey and I thought she was just sleeping.  But then I found out that she died.  And I wondered if it hurt.”

*fire hydrant

The Daily Post-Writing Honestly

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4 comments

  1. What a tradgedy Ashley, I am so sorry to hear about your sister. I have experienced two fires and thank God no one was injured, but we lost alot that could be replaced. Thanks for sharing that, it really let me know that material things can be replaced but not human lives, again sorry to hear of your lost. Wanda Griffith

    1. Hello Wanda. Thanks for the comment. It was a very long time ago but I appreciate your condolences. Life is very precious. My name is actually Elba. Take care and lots of luck on your book.

  2. I came across this, by clicking on a link in the Daily Post. What a sad, sad story …
    Apart from the story itself, I hear you big time, about the fear of criticism. It seems I can no longer write/tell stories the way I did as a child.

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