My Childhood Diary: A Young Writer’s First Obsession

Keeping those vital secrets under lock and key!

Steffany Ritchie

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A young child opens a book
photo by Annie Sprat on Unsplash

I still remember my first diary. It was small, with a chunky white pleather cover, with a colorful print of hearts and roller-skates (so 80s). The paper was lined and pleasingly slippery, with gold leaf edges. Most importantly, it was held together with a tiny lock and key.

This thrilled and comforted me. I was a quiet, deep thinker (so I thought) and I had so many secret feelings to express!

When I first received the diary as a birthday present, I diligently wrote all of my vital information on the front page, as well as a warning to anyone who might dare to read it to KEEP OUT!

I felt self-important with power and full of many top-secret stories that the world was dying to read about. I was eight years old.

It all began so well, as with most writing projects. At first, I wrote down my daily habits and adventures regularly.

I remember re-reading them and thinking they seemed disappointingly unimpressive and mundane. Who cared what I had for lunch at school or whether my best friend was being annoying or if my teacher hated me?

I know now this was an accurate foretelling of what life as a writer feels like most days! Grasping for meaning in the tedium of everyday life, trying and failing to convey feelings that I often don’t quite have words for.

But being a somewhat determined young writer, I stuck at it. I learned a few important writer’s tricks before long such as:

BOLD ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING THAT IS SUPER IMPORTANT! IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD DOESN’T IT?! ESPECIALLY WHEN BOYS AND TEACHERS ARE DUMB AND MEAN!

Also — Don’t be shy with exclamation marks, or exclamations of joy and fury!!! EVERYTHING THAT FEELS SMALL OR UNACKNOWLEDGED BUT PAINFUL IN REAL LIFE FEELS BETTER WHEN WE YELL ABOUT IT ON THE PAGE!!!!

Ok, so realistically shouting is never a great idea on the page unless used very sparingly. I think Stephen King for one has executed it effectively a few times. It can definitely have a crescendo effect and add intense drama for fiction writers especially.

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Steffany Ritchie

Hi, I write memoir, humor, music, and pop culture. American in Scotland.