My Fictional Past by Sarah Herlong



When I was young and sensitive about critiques, I asked my mother to read my story. I wanted to know if the actions of my characters were realistic. She pointed out to me that putting gas cans full of gasoline in the trunk of a car was not a safe thing to do. I was crushed. The gas in the trunk was very important to my story…it was crucial!

I wanted to write stories that didn’t sound like a kid wrote them. Unfortunately I was maybe 10 years old. I decided to stop writing. I wanted to wait until I was older and knew more about the world.

I then turned my attention to art deciding to merely illustrate my friend’s book instead. We were 13. I pursued art through college. I wanted to take a creative writing course, but bottom line I was too chicken to take it. I wondered if I had anything to say that wouldn’t scream that I was only 20 years old.

It was only after college that I started to write. A lot of writing was skewed and imprinted with depression. It wasn’t completely worthless, but was damn near close. I still have those writings to remind me of a place I don’t want to go back to.

Finally in my thirties I took a writing class. It was a fiction class and it was all about getting words on the page through prompts. We wrote during the class and at home. It blew my mind. I was in the midst of a mania induced creative period. I dreamed what every writer dreams, to quit my job in order to write. But that job inspired my writing.

Then I got laid off from that tyrannical job, worked for a funeral home and started writing again. This was the ultimate job to inspire writing. I did a comedy routine about it. Wrote stories about it. And put together and delivered a career day presentation on the funeral business—for middle schoolers.

Then the depression returned and the writing stopped. It wasn’t until I met a little cat named Sparky that my inspiration returned. Three Sparky stories in and I think I’m safely entrenched in writing for the long haul. The irony is now I want to write children’s stories that have a realistic kid’s voice, instead of writing for my age.


Sarah spent 10 years on the west coast and hopes to return someday. She is currently writing children’s literature and short stories. She takes care of her mother and was inspired to write a comedy routine, all about her mother. Sarah nervously delivered this routine at a benefit for The Greater Columbia Literacy Council, and hopes to keep getting inspired to write more comedy. 

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