Dear 12 year-old me,
I think about you a lot! I see you in my head sometimes. I don’t think you looked that different to how I do now. Same hair, same face. I don’t think my dress sense has even changed that much. I still remember your crippling shyness, how it crept up on you until you couldn’t deny who you were and how the world saw you. That became a heavy burden in your later teens but right now, it’s not a problem at all. I wish I could go back and tell you that one day you find your voice! That one day you run your own company and write and publish your own books!
It was all you wanted back then. Every day you would rush home from awful school, the place that churned up your guts every night in bed, and you’d glue yourself to your notebooks and pens, scribbling away, pen flying over paper, never stopping. You had so much inside of you, I think it surprised you as much as anyone when you wrote an entire book. Until the moment you created Danny and what would eventually become The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, it had been short, endearing stories about lost animals.
What happened when you turned 12? Everything.
You discovered music. You couldn’t stand the vapid boy bands popular among your classmates in the early 90s, but you found a lyrical friend in Bob Dylan and other musicians from the 60s. You felt so out of place in your own generation, until you discovered grunge and Nirvana! I remember how you’d lie on the floor with your head between the speakers of your hi-fi system, trying to digest and pinpoint every drum beat, every strum of the guitar, amazed and bewildered by what you were hearing and feeling.
You discovered movies. The Lost Boys inspired you to write about monsters, though you made yours the human kind. I still remember that moment, the bit at the end of the movie where they discover that the head vampire is really Sam and Michael’s mother’s boyfriend and you thought what if that happened in real life? What if your mother was dating an absolute monster and no one knew it but you?
You discovered that your parents had already been divorced for a few years – for some bizarre reason, feeling the need to keep up a charade until the truth came out. What you felt more than anything was relief that the arguing would stop and fear about who they might date. After all, monsters really did exist…
You started writing Danny’s story fuelled by your own fears.
You discovered gritty storytelling. Your writing shifted from cutesy animal tales to hard-hitting ones about abuse, drugs, self-harm, and crime and that’s because you fell in love with The Outsiders and SE Hinton became on of your heroes. She published The Outsiders at aged 17, so that meant you could too, right? Reading her books and others like them, moved you away from animal stories and into darker territory.
You discovered Stephen King and his influence would seep into everything you wrote from then on. The exploration of character and back story and motivation, and the every day details we so often miss. For you, the monsters were always human.
You thought you were fat and so many people thought it their duty to convince you this was true. You began to wish you could shrink inside your own skin, or pull it all off and start again. You looked at your skinny older sisters with envy and longing. You didn’t want to be seen in public with a face like that, a body like that. You turned to your writing, to your characters and they became your entire world, your friends, your everything.
They never went away, let me tell you that now. They are all still here. Every night my mind plays out scenes that have happened or not happened, and every night I watch my own little movies in my head just like you did back then.
I wish I could go back and tell you that everything you hated about yourself then is everything I love about myself now.
You were called over-sensitive, grizzly, weak, easy to make cry. You lived on the edges looking in, observing. I can’t tell you how much that shaped you as a writer and how I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. How now I can see who you were and what you were becoming, that pain is good, that silence makes you stronger, that observation builds entire worlds inside you. That you overcome everything and did it anyway. At 12 years old all you wanted was to be a writer and today that is all I am. That is everything. I smile every day because you gave me these stories, these worlds, these words.
Thank you for doing it. Thank you for dedicating so many hours in your bedroom to writing and creating characters. None of it was wasted. None of it was in vain. It was all worth it in the end.
Thank you for being you.
44 Year-Old me.