I got into reading quite well on in my youth, while at university, but books had an impact on me long before that. First, there was The Bible, which affected my life in a lot of unquantifiable ways simply by my parents believing in its teachings. But other than that, there were the books I had inside me (yeah, I know, how cliché does that sound?).
The thing is, I have been writing books for as long as I can remember (which, admittedly, is not that long, but that’s a whole different story. Maybe I’ll write about it one day…)
Back in Primary School, I was obsessed with animals. I mean, I still kinda am, but not to the degree with which a child can be. I have various snippets of memories in which I collected up any magazine with photos of pets in I could find, cutting them out as best I could and then gluing them to blank pieces of paper that I hoped would one day become My Big Book of Animals. Don’t ask me where it all ended up, I have no idea, but the point is that from a young age I had the desire to keep the things that mattered to me most in print.
While in High School I made a list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it ended up mostly being a list of books I wanted to write. I wrote a lot of poetry in those awkward teenage years, and I remember typing it up, printing and stapling copies that I gave to my best (/only) friend and my English teacher, at the time. (Apparently my friend still has her copy. She has so far ignored my requests to burn it.)
My own personal copies of those early poems no longer exist (thank God!), but a few from my later teens, and a stack from my university days still live on. I read over them, back when I was doing my literary audit, and I felt the urge to do something with them. They were too personal and not really at a high enough quality to submit anywhere, but leaving them to gather metaphorical dust on my computer didn’t seem right. I wanted closure on the events they were inspired by. I wanted to put them in a book, I realized.
Thus, Juvenilia (aka The Dark Time) was made. If Still Dreaming is my first book (which it is), then Juvenilia is like book zero. I may never make an official page for it on this site, or even mention it again (then again, I might), but it exists in the world and that felt necessary. The blurb says this: Poems from an unhappy youth. Pain committed to paper. A catalogue and containment of The Dark Time. I think that sums it up quite well. It represents a chunk of my life that I can’t get back (and don’t want back!), but one I had to live through.
Why did I call it Juvenilia if I wrote it mostly after I was a legal adult? Because, legality aside, I was still a juvenile. I hadn’t grown up, in large part due to still carrying all that emotional crap around with me.
Why did I release it under my birth name? Well, that should be obvious from the answer above. I hadn’t become the person I am now. That’s why I’m not launching this book and making a big deal out of it, because it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. Not quite me, but a previous incarnation of me.
I don’t know if any of this will make sense to anyone else, but the book isn’t for anyone else. I don’t care if anyone else ever reads it (except my partner). It simply is what it is.
I hurt, I poured the pain into words, I moved on, and now the words I penned once upon a time are moving on, too.
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