I did creative writing as an elementary school student. I remember being sent, terrified, to the headmaster's office, only to be told to read my story aloud to him (thanks for the heads up, teach!). I did creative writing in high school, as our English teacher lobbed writing prompts at us for an hour when she just couldn't bear to teach Macbeth another day. I published some "pomes" as a graduate student, all but one of them in college mags. But at some point, I got excruciatingly self conscious, and stopped. At least, that's what I thought had happened. But the other day I pulled out of obscurity a binder full of scraps of writing. All pretty awful, but still. There they were!
Now, academic books are not much in the way of creative writing, true. And the first one reads like you'd expect a dissertation to read. An award winning dissertation, but still. If there was an award for the most polysyllabic diction, it'd be mine. The past five years (plus one for the publisher to actually make the book) have been near daily writing, but I didn't think of it in very creative terms. I did aim for a truly readable, enjoyable as well as informative book, so audience and purpose were firmly in place. But I was chomping at the bit to write fiction. Not academic prose, and not poetry.
And finally, this is the life, just as (sorry, Hallmark moment:) I'd hoped for in high school and earlier. (I do actually have one piece that survived elementary school, and typing that sentence I just remembered my earliest story, about a group of nomadic aborigines in the Australian desert...which is amazing for the similarity in concept to one of my chapter books). And the writing muscles are well pumped, thanks to years of academic writing, and (being an English teacher) professional reading. So there are two things that are different now: 1) I've lost the self consciousness, thanks to 2) having children and rediscovering over the past seven years the fun of children's lit.
Moral of the story: look at how much fun this is, and how great it can be, as well as how much slog, and if you're hemming and hawing about writing, don't put it off until "one day when...".
Now, in case all the hand inscriptions add up to something, what's on daughter's hand in ink today: "crickets" (for the toad, Rufus), and on the other hand: "Thumbelina" (the movie, for daughter to rent).