—Jenna, Team Ink Well
When I was ten years old I wrote and illustrated a short story I called “Purple Rain” (absolutely no relation to the 1984 Prince album) about a race of cloud-people who coordinated the weather on Earth using a variety of simple machines and art supplies.
The plot centered on a rainbow gone wrong – the purple rainbow paint got mixed in with the rain machine by a clumsy cloud-boy named Jeff (yes, Jeff), and soon the Earthlings below were covered in a drippy purple ooze, leading to disastrous results. I was incredibly, unabashedly proud of this piece of work: I pulled it out to show each and every family member that had the misfortune to stop by. I wrote my own “About Me” on the back cover in purple Magic Marker, and pasted my 2nd grade school photo, the one with the ugly yellow sunflower skirt, next to it.
While it was immediately obvious to even the most doting of grandparents that I had absolutely no artistic talent (see above), I quickly realized a burgeoning love of writing and the writing process, from conception all the way to publication. Encouraged by this first endeavor, it’s safe to say that I spent those so-called formative years either reading or scribbling. At recess, other students made fun of me because I would sneak a book and a snack from my lunchbox outside, losing myself in my own little world while everyone else played kickball or practiced swearing. My spiral notebook margins were covered with weird observations or bits of overheard conversations. I wore big brown glasses before they were cool. I was that kid, and at ten it didn’t ever occur to me there were others out there just like me—introverted and inquisitive with their noses stuck in a book—and writing, always writing.
I experimented with nonfiction very early on; most memorably, I recall keeping a notebook that I used to write profiles of family members, friends, and even random strangers. Maybe it was because I knew, even then, that it is possible to find inspiration in the everyday; that the people in your life can be transformed into characters to share on the page (as my mother likes to remind me: “Not til I’m dead!”); and that there is an inimitable sense of accomplishment that results from the creation of something entirely original.
Years later, I’m an editor in the publishing industry, pinching myself everyday that I’m fortunate enough to actually be employed in a field I’m passionate about. I’m still writing, but now I get the chance to shape and share other people’s work, too. The best part of my week is when an author turns over manuscript and I can settle down with a cup of coffee and my inky red pen. My “Purple Rain” origins got me here—to this job, and to this exciting creative project with my very good friend—and you better believe I still have the original copy of that story stored safely at my parent’s house to remind me of those very humble beginnings.
So as Team Ink Well prepares to launch our premiere issue—something we’ve worked towards for months—we’re finding our inbox simply teeming with inspiration: your art, your photos, your poems and your stories that show us the wildly different forms that “origins” can take. We thank you, we adore you, and please keep it coming.
Where will your origins take you?