IWSG 27 – Who Understands Talent As A Kid?

New IWSG BadgeThis post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



I’d like to offer a special thank you to whomever thought up the monthly question. It makes it that much easier to take part in the IWSG posts.

August IWSG question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I’m sure I mentioned before how unaware I was of my writing skill as a young person. Sure, I journaled as a teen which really meant I vented onto the page until I had sorted out my feelings. Those dramatic works were eventually burned.

But that’s not all I did. I was troubled as teen by my youngest brother’s death. He drowned when I was eight. I carried survivor’s guilt with me well into my twenties.

As a teen, I became obsessed with death and expressed it in poetry. The poems were spiritual in nature and questioned what happened next, and how a person, me, was expected to cope with loss.

Many a friend cringed when I pulled out my notebook to share my latest morbid work, but one poem was included in a collection of works at my high school. I’m not sure if the teacher was desperate to fill in an empty space or my doom and gloom was actually any good.

Some schoolmates, the ones that throw nothing away, may still have a copy of it somewhere., but I’m not that kind of person. Very likely during one of my many purges, I threw it away.

Looking back, I realized how little I respected my writing process. I didn’t understand what it meant to create something unique. I rarely shared my work outside my circle. Any constructive feedback I did receive was from teachers.

Thanks to them I have a thick skin and still haven’t given it up.  What about you did you have any idea where your writing would lead?

94 responses to “IWSG 27 – Who Understands Talent As A Kid?

  1. Sorry about your brother. Writing poetry is therapeutic so I can see how writing poetry helped to sort out your feelings. More than likely one of your poems was chosen for inclusion not because there was space that needed to be filled. Rather the teacher thought it was a good poem and wanted it includes. I’ve been there, had my doubts as to why my poem was included in my junior high school year but they just simply liked it.

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. I know how huge that can be when you are young and it’s that close to you, very traumatic I know. I lost my mother as a teen, so experience death early in life too.

    I’m still obsessed with death. Great post.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  3. Sorry about your brother. Sorry you lost your poems.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. It has to be very difficult to lose a sibling like that, but it sounds like you found a way to channel your feelings into your poetry.

    I sometimes still find it hard to believe I’m a writer. I didn’t write anything when I was in school unless I had to, but by my senior year, I began to dabble in writing via online roleplaying games and college writing fanfiction. It was a long process for this avid reader to become a writer. Heh.

    • All of us have come a long way and I doubt any of us were doing more than fulfilling an urge for self expression. It’s wonderful that we became writers as well.

  5. Writing was cathartic for you–why so many take it up. It sounds like it helped. What an awful thing to happen when you were so young.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss, Anna. I, too, did the teenage scribbling in journals and writing of morbid poetry. I had an idea of where I wanted my writing to lead, but it took a good long while to get there.

  7. Thanks for a great post! It’s so thought provoking. Survivor’s guilt, haunted childhood, unacknowledged pain… I’ve lived through that too. I used to scribble things down all the time–dark things–and became afraid of my mind. So, I tried to reject the darkness which had inspired my freewriting and just pretend to be happy. It’s taken a long time for me to start writing for myself again (like 20 years), and I’ve tried to reject the darkness…again. But it births such raw beauty. It hurts, sure. I cry just about every time I give myself the freedom to write from my place of truth. When I reject other people’s standards and embrace the pain of life, my writing is most true, and I am most proud of what I’ve produced. You don’t fully know joy unless you know some sorrow, so for that I am grateful.

  8. The death of a loved one is an overwhelming experience even as an adult. Writing your poetry must have been a great way to process your grief. I hope your poems helped you feel connected with your brother and am glad you kept writing.

  9. With 20/20 hind sight, we can say it’s such a shame you threw those early pieces away. But they were written at a time when you needed to write them. It doesn’t matter that not a lot of people got to read your pieces. Continue to write!

  10. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    I’m sorry for the loss of your brother. Adolescence is a difficult time no matter what your life was like beforehand. Poetry is one way of dealing with the emotions of that period. I wrote poetry when I was a teen too, though I’m not sure where my copies are anymore.

  11. What a heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing it. I didn’t plan on making anything from my writing when I was young. I guess I needed it more to cope with life than to have others see it. 🙂

  12. I don’t think writing back then was something you were meant to understand or analyze. It was something you needed, and that was enough. 🙂

  13. Sorry about your brother and the guilt you carried. My writing was a way of dealing with darkness and a similar guilt.

  14. I know a lot of people used their writing to sort out their feelings after a tragic loss. One of the members of my crit group is a mother who lost a son at a young age and needed a way to vent. I tend to internalize grief, so I’ve never used writing for that purpose. In fact, I can’t write when I’m in anything other than a happy mood.

    • Those other emotions can add passion. For example, I wouldn’t share the event of my grief, but if a character is profoundly sad–that I would share. 🙂

  15. Your writing sounds like it was more therapeutic as a teen. Bad poetry should be allowed to be what it was meant for — working out our own issues, right? I still have all my old journals and I’m both not willing to ditch them and also terrified someone will read them!

    Here’s my August IWSG post on my first novel attempt (note I said ATTEMPT). YA Author Stephanie Scott IWSG August

  16. Angela Wooldridge

    Damn, being a teenager is tough enough. I’m sorry you lost someone that young. But (as Stephanie said) writing is therapeutic, so your angsty poetry was probably doing a very important job.

  17. I also wrote a lot of poetry about death as a teenager. I’m not exactly sure why I was so obsessed. Using writing to process emotions, especially grief, seems quite natural.

  18. I’m sorry to hear about your tragedy. It’s not a fun way to start a journey, but it’s shaped you into who you are. I’m glad you were able to express your grief through poetry.

  19. Writing is cheaper than therapy . . .and for me, it’s more effective. It sounds like it has been a balm to your soul in that way, too. I played at writing in my childhood and adolescence as well. Who knows if it was any good? Some people told me so then, but teachers and other adults exaggerate to encourage the young. But still, it helped me cope with life and became a part of me. We’re both lucky to have found it.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  20. Your journey of strength did, indeed, begin with the pen. As Samantha says, writing is cheaper than therapy, and sometimes for children, the only option. My writing has definitely taken me in some surprising directions, and I think, will continue to do so.

  21. I am so sorry to hear about your brother. That would be hard to life with at such a young age. Writing poetry can definitely help us, especially kids, understand and cope with their feelings.

    I’m thrilled that you enjoy the monthly questions. I had a feeling that it would help so many who I saw struggling to write their IWSG posts.

  22. Thank you for this very poignant message, Anna. Our son suffers from surviver’s guilt. He was involved in the car accident that killed his older brother. That was 25 years ago and he’s still suffering. My deepest sympathies for your loss. Know that someone is always there to hold you up. Just ask.

  23. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I hope you are doing well and the surviver guilt doesn’t hold you back. You’re a beautiful person.

    Writing is a great outlet for emotions. Keep at it!

  24. Wow, Anna, I’m so sorry about the loss of your brother at such a young age and the survivor’s guilt you carried with you for so long. Writing is such good therapy and I love that you do it so well. Love you even more now. Hugs, Eva

  25. I’m glad you were able to find a creative outlet for you sorrow, and I hope you now use poetry to express joy as well.

  26. My writing was always just for me. It never occurred to me that I would do anything with it until after three career changes. While I still have a day job, writing is part of me all the time. I haven’t written poetry since high school (we can all rest easy now), but writing, in general, has helped me cope with so many issues throughout my life. Thanks for sharing your story today. Perhaps, the memory of that poem is all that really matters.

  27. I’m sorry for your loss, Anna. I went through a similar event in my late teens. It changed me forever. But it’s the challenges we face in life that make us who we are.

    I’d be lying if I said I haven’t always been a strong writer. The ability to express myself via the written word is a fundamental part of who I am. The difference now is that I write fiction. For most of my life I wrote non-fiction: academic papers, op-ed pieces, newsletters, annual reports and budget narratives, etc. Fiction is a whole different world and calls for a whole different set of skills.

    VR Barkowski

  28. Never would have guessed I’d be writing away at my bay. Nothing but stupid accounting stuff that is lol

  29. I never intended to be a writer. I just started doing it for fun and it exploded from there.

  30. So sorry about your brother. That would make life unbelievably difficult.
    Poetry is a wonderfully expressive outlet. And kudos to you for developing a thick skin. I’m still working on that. Grin.

  31. Your writing must have helped you deal with the loss of your brother. I’m glad you found an outlet for your grief. As kids we never appreciate our talents.

  32. Teen age years are hard enough, but adding the grief you face must have been numbing.
    Glad you found solace in poetry.

  33. I knew I wanted to be in arts from a young age. Got a lot of push back from family but it has been accepted now that I’m not changing my mind. Of course if I suddenly became a doctor or receptionist there’s be a real jump for joy. I have writings going back years. Purging is hard. Getting the right sized book case is much easier.

  34. I can’t imagine losing a sibling so young. I’m sorry for your loss. I never throw away anything that I write. I just file it away. Maybe it will see the light of day, maybe it won’t, but I’ll always keep it because it feels like a part of me. I’m glad that you haven’t given up and are still writing. Keep on putting that pen to paper!

  35. Developing a thick skin is crucial in this game. 🙂
    I never planned on writing or publishing. The drabble got me hooked on flash fiction… one thing lead to another…and here I am!

  36. I too found solace in writing poetry as a teen. Losing my father at that age has stayed with me and I find the pain still comes out in my writing even now. Sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing your story with us. I wish you much joy and success in your writing.

    • I’m sure more than pain comes out of your writing. No doubt, you breath life into it. Lucky for us sensitive types we have more emotions than we know what to do with. 🙂

  37. Sorry I’m late, Anna! Wow. I was so moved by your post. The tragic loss of your brother must have shaped you in ways I can’t even imagine. It’s probably part of the reason you have such great empathy now.
    I used to purge through poetry, too. I kept one of the books, thank goodness, even though most of it is cringe-worthy. I still think I may use some of it, some day….

  38. I can see how the tragedy of losing your brother would have really shaped your writing. What a terrible loss. Thank goodness for teachers who guide and support young people and take the time to offer helpful feedback on their creative endeavors.

  39. You really had a journey- I am so sorry for your loss, but am glad you had a way to channel the grief. I started writing when I was 13 and just though it was so cool words I typed looked like a REAL story! Nothing dramatic, but I used to love reading what I wrote :).

  40. Anna, ever since I was little I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Like you much of my early writing had to do with bad situations and was a way of venting as a child. I’ll bet if you ever find it you’ll see that poem was brilliant and that’s why it was published. Thanks for sharing this!

  41. You lived and managed to cope with something that I imagine is most people’s worst fear. I’m glad you discovered writing at such a young age to help you cope. I can’t believe you threw that publication away! I’m sure what you wrote was chosen on merit. Then again, maybe that’s a place you don’t want to go back to so perhaps you knew what you were doing when you purged it.

  42. I agree–thank you to IWSG geniuses for creating the question of the month!

    I’m so sad to hear about the death of your brother. What a tragedy that surely affected your family in so many ways. I’m glad you’ve had writing to grieve.

  43. Death is still a theme in your books. You’re brave to write it out and share it. So sorry about your brother’s death. So tragic. Hugs to you.
    Mary at Play off the Page

  44. authorcrystalcollier

    I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have lost a sibling so young. I’m glad you had your writing to explore and heal. I lost my father and brother about 13 year back, and since then, I’ve noticed that hope and eternal love have become prominent themes in my work. Especially hope.

  45. So sorry for you loss, and so young. Survivors guilt is a dreadful thing! I’m glad you had writing as an outlet!
    My brother was 60 when he died and I can’t imagine dealing with that grief as a youngster. Writing is a lifeline, and I too have purged some of my darker periods. I hope you find a copy of that poem though, it might bring some peace.

  46. I was determined to be a bestselling novelist from a very young age. It came right after my dream of being a cowgirl. Still working on that. 🙂

    So sorry to hear about your brother. That’s very sad. I lost one too, but he died before I was born. I wrote a lot of morbid poetry to cope with it as well.

  47. I’m really sorry to hear about your brother.
    If you remember even vaguely threads of what you’d worked on before, even if it’s something you’d thrown away, you can use those threads to weave a new piece of work. I’ve done that before.

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