When I knew I was a writer

I can pinpoint the exact date I knew I was a writer.

On Feb. 17, 1981, I wrote in my diary, “I don’t think that I have ever written in a diary this long before. You are my third. I feel it is a real achievement.”

This is not the date I knew I was an author or even when I could begin to think of writing a book, but I knew if I could write in a diary every day for six weeks, then I was a Writer with a capital W. Writers write. And diaries (and blogs) count as writing.


I owe this skill to Judy Blume, the author of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret and other pieces of young adult fiction that have become cultural touchstones. In 1981, she added to her publication list The Judy Blume Diary, an ingenious piece of marketing with excerpts from her novels, a few pictures and lots of blank lines. At the end of every month were the same prompts:

  • The best of [February]
  • The worst of [February]
  • School
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Me
  • A book
  • A show
  • A feeling

And at the end of the year, she prompted diarists to reflect on what had changed and what had stayed the same.

My first successful year recording my sometimes irrelevant thoughts occurred a little no-name locking diary (Jan. 22: “Just think, if I had $100 to spend on a drugstore. And if Amy and Cindy were there. I wonder if I would give them a third of the money. Hmmm, if I was only there with Amy and I gave her $50, I would get to spend $48.07 without tax and it would equal about $50. Hmmm”). But then I discovered those Judy Blume diaries and poured my feelings into them for four years of high school.

And then I carried them around with me for 35 years, hoping to find a book in them. And Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 was born.

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1984

Dear Diary,

I got a Writer’s Technique out of the library today. You know, I’d like to be a writer. I like culture. I like making “statements,” and I like writing. Hmm… It would certainly be a challenge.

* * *

blogging-bonanza-bugI’m celebrating the countdown to launch on March 28 of Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982 with a month-long blogging bonanza, which means I’ll be blogging here every day this month about my book, about memoirs in general and about the launch.


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