Exhibit #1 or When I First Fell in Love with Writing, by Tracy Holczer

I will start off by saying I really don’t know when it was I decided to become a writer. What I do know is that it was gradual. Which I guess is what the word “becoming” is all about. Anyway.

Reading was a big part of my life when I was young. Books helped me make sense of a world that was, on a good day, seriously confusing. But I’m not sure it occurred to me to be a writer. At least not in a realistic way. I looked at writers as movie or rock stars. So you could do your best, but still might not make it. Plus I had a serious shortage of confidence.
Does this look like a girl would
survive in the jungle?
One of the turmoilish things that happened back then was that moved to a new school at the very end of sixth grade. I mean the very end. There were three weeks left in the school year. And because of the aforementioned shortage of confidence, the idea of making my way out into the jungle, er, playground, and trying to infiltrate groups of kids who had been together since kindergarten, terrified me. So I played jacks in the classroom. In the dark. Seriously. I turned off the lights because I didn’t want anyone to see me in there.

This is not as pathetic as it seems (and I am actually, eventually, going to make my point) because it was in this sixth grade classroom, in the dark, where I met my soon-to-be best friend, Kendra, who was also a hiding sort of person. We would go on to introduce our families who would hit it off spectacularly and spend the next several summers vacationing together in glamorous destinations like Lake Almanor where we would fish for Kokanee trout.
I don’t remember much of those three weeks, mostly just the jacks and Kendra. But I do remember a writing contest. Back when they had contests where there was only one winner. Surprisingly, despite my lack of confidence, I lit up inside at the prospect of writing a story for a contest. I wrote madly and re-wrote. I was consumed by the contest (this is when I discovered how competitive I am – which I have come to believe is an ingredient in the stew that is a writer). It was a terribly frightening story about an evil book in a particular room in an old hotel. Chaos ensued. People died. The book won. It was my best work.

And I won the contest! Of course, I believed at the time that they let me win because I was new and played jacks during lunch in a dark room. But still!
Like I said, I don’t remember if this was when I first dreamed of becoming a writer. But it was definitely the first time I remember loving writing.

So let's call it Exhibit #1 in the writer that I have become.


  1. Isn't it wonderful how one thing...like a contest, can change our course? Great post Tracy.

  2. Loved this post, Tracy. Great image of the sixth grade you playing jacks in a dark classroom.

  3. I always enjoy hearing the "story-behind-the-story" - thanks, Tracy!


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