How I Started Writing


Once upon a time, a king, a queen and their three daughters lived in a castle. They loved each other so much that they always tired to protect one another from the truth. I’m not saying that they never fought, because they did. I’m just saying that they were overprotective of each other.

The kind would not let his daughters date and could never say no to them. He was a gentle man, though he may not seem that way if you’ve ever met him. His daughters really did adore him.

The queen was a strict woman in a way. She always required a clean house but would often treat her daughters to something special. She was also very kind at heart, much like her husband.

The first daughter was 15 years of age and was often described as “beautiful and a little crazy.” You will find out why a little later in the story. The second daughter was 12 years of age and was often described as “pretty but outrageous.” And the third daughter was eight years of age and was often described as “a little snobbish, a mite selfish, but occasionally pretty.” This because she was spoiled and barely ever cleaned herself well.

So begins a story I wrote as a tween for my mother. I have been writing since before I could write. It has been my method of processing for years, thanks to my mother. I often wrote her short stories, poems and letters to express my understanding of my world. She always accepted them and encouraged me. Before I was able to write by hand, she had me dictate. There is a pile of papers somewhere with poetry I composed at age three.

It would be fair to say my mother is the reason I’m a writer. She also writes, but draws beautiful art more often. Her stories are pictures in her mind. I think she’d be a brilliant graphic novelist. Using writing as a tool to help her young, autistic daughter engage the world was the work of a deeply creative and loving mother. Even if she was strict sometimes. Even if she did teach me to clean a toilet at age six.

You did catch that story excerpt was autobiographical, right? Guess who was the outrageous, pretty middle daughter.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

Discussion about this post

  1. Norah Colvin says:

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it in such a fairytale happily ever after way.

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