There are only few things I know for certain, this is one of them played back through the eyes of a 20 year old college girl. I don’t remember how old she was when it first happened. She knew. It was around the time where when strangers asked her age and her mom would answer, only to have her blurt out and a half with a silly little smile. I can’t tell for certain where exactly she was when everything started, but she would always ask the same question. I know it was with her mother, I know she met people who wrote, and I know she was always intrigued. One place I often remember her going was a used mystery book store called Coffee, Tea, and Mystery. They made her favorite orange smoothie, I think it was called an Orange Dreamsicle. If she sat quietly through the signing, she would get one, if not, well she was always good at signings. She would roam around the bookshop while the author discussed details of their new book. At first she didn’t understand what the authors said but she saw the amazement on everyone’s face when they spoke. She knew they were important. I now know the amazement she saw was that of loyal fans overly excited for the next installment of their favorite series. I understand their amazement listening to an author discuss their new book and waiting anxiously to hide themselves in its pages. The little girl in the bookstore did not understand why the speaker, writer, one who holds the audience’s amazement, was such a celebrity among this crowd but she knew she admired them. She wanted to be like them and have people stare at her with amazement, hanging on her every word: written or spoken.
When it came time for questions and answers she made sure she was back in her seat, sometimes standing on it so the author could see her, hand raised anxiously as if the one question she had was the most important thing in the world. The authors would call on her every time and she always asked, “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?” Most of them would smile at this question and all of them had the same answer. “Around your age.” After she had asked about 20 different authors the same question; males, females, older, younger, all with the same answer, one finally gave a question back to her. “Why do you ask?” were the words from the author whose name nor face I can no longer recall. The little girl simply said “because I am going to be a writer too! I want to know how to start.” The author smiled and gave a reply I know better than my name “Write a little every day. That is the first step, that’s what I did.” The little girl smiled and took the advice to heart. Recently I found something written by that little girl from the used book store floating in my garage. It was a short story in first person with an introduction stating it was the first thing Alissa had ever written and that those who read it should be nice because she had to start somewhere. It was a fictional story about how a young girl walked to school. At the end it repeated this was the first story she ever wrote but it wouldn’t be the last. It stated that one day she would become a writer.
In present day I am a college student at the age of 20. I do not want to make the young girl upset and I still share her dream, well one of them at least. I dream to be a published writer. I write a little every day in pursuit of this goal. I have completed a few short stories and have been working on a novel since middle school. The little girl may not have known how much work it would be but we both know it will be worth it. If I can be successful enough to sign in a small used book store I would instantly agree to it and drop almost anything for the chance to sit in front of a small crowd. People whom I hope love my book as much as I do. People who learned something from reading a work of fiction or could tell me the book changed their outlook on life. But all I would really need is a little girl sitting in the back quietly with her mom waiting for questions and answers; for me to call on her, to point to the path which she may pave to writing.
To all you writers out there, thank you for the inspiration to a young mind, she may not have known how important the words of encouragement you gave her, but I do. I remember her being the smallest in the crowd, the one who fidgeted through the whole thing while words she never heard were spoken. The mismatched chairs of a small used book store and the amazing orange smoothies they made. Thank you.