My mom bought me a diary for my tenth birthday. It was one of those cloth covered books with the little teeny-tiny sliver key to lock your thoughts away. I recorded the events of my life for two days before I realized I could do better.
I started making up stuff: adventures out on the high desert (we were living in El Paso, Texas at the time), daring rescues of helpless kittens, brave stands against mean teachers, even one sizzling romance in which I handed the object of my affections a note in math class, with the age-old question," "Do you like me? Circle: Yes No Maybe". In my story, the note came back with the "Yes" not only circled, but with two exclamation points.
Then my two older brothers found the key and gained access to my entire body of work. It was shared. With many. You-know-who included. My first critiques were not kind. The worst though, was the editorial review.
The entire story came out after my mom caught me and Mike fighting in the hall. Well, I was fighting, clinging with one hand to his shirt, flailing away madly at his back with the other. He was swinging his body from side to side, bouncing me off the walls, trying to dislodge me.
I was sent to my room for hitting my brother (of all things! He was 15, I was 10. He'd once bounced on my stomach until I threw up!) and pending review of my diary.
Later that day, after my dad got home, I was called to the editorial review board, I mean the kitchen. My parents were concerned. They wanted to know, did I know I was "making up lies" or did I really think these things were true? Since I hadn't made any conscious acknowledgment to myself that I was actually writing fiction, writing essentially what were short stories, it never entered my mind to use that defense. I did my best to explain, that yes, I knew it wasn't true, I was just trying to make my diary more exciting.
I was so ashamed that I sat on my bed and tore every page in the diary in to the smallest bits I physically could. It took me many many years to "come out of the closet" with the fact that I was still writing. And hanging out with other writers. And I liked it and it was a big part of who I am. And I'm not going to stop writing.
I wish writers had a snappy little motto. Maybe I'll write one.