That red paper folder held our lunchtime entertainment. jamiekocur

Inside were pages of college ruled notebook paper filled with my sixth grade scrawl. On the front page was a crudely drawn white unicorn under the bold title, THE SEARCH FOR SILVERSTRIDE.

Every night as I finished with my homework, I would excitedly pull that fraying red folder out of my book bag, turn to a fresh page, and begin to write. It was my first attempt at “real” writing, and the finished product was my first “book.”

Every day at school, my friends and I would scurry to our lunch table and pull out our PB&J’s and Swiss cake rolls, and I’d pass that red folder down the line. They took turns reading it, giggling and squealing at the chapter I’d written the night before.

The story was my attempt at fantasy. It featured me as the main character, an enchantress whose magical unicorn, Silverstride, had been stolen. My friends made up the rest of the characters, elves and fairies and other cute mythical creatures. We all went on a quest in search of that unicorn. The stories inside each chapter usually featured one of my friends ending up with their crush. It was middle school literature at it’s finest.

I finished writing that book. We found Silverstride, we all ended up with our true loves, and everyone lived happily ever after. I even began a sequel, but gave up on it soon after starting. Sophomore slump at the age of twelve…

That red folder and cheesy plotline were the first signs of my love of writing bubbling to the surface. I’m not sure why I decided I needed to write a story, but I did. Each night I’d lose myself in that little fantasy world as the plot unfolded in my brain and tumbled out of my number 2 pencil. I didn’t realize it at that young age, but words were becoming an important part of my life.

I’ve grown out of writing about unicorns and middle school chick flicks, but my love of writing is still present. It drives much of my life these days. If I can get what’s out of my head and onto the page, I feel better. I can breathe, because I’ve turned the mess from my head into something beautiful. If I can tell a story and share it with the world, I feel like I’m contributed and done something wonderful.

Unfortunately, The Search For Silverstride is gone. I ran across it in high school while cleaning my room, and was mortified when I re-read it. I was afraid of someone running across it and making fun of me, so I quickly threw it away. I wish I had held onto it now, a tactile reminder of how important words were to me even at a young age.

But even without a physical copy, that silly unicorn lingers in my mind. I’m glad Silverstride galloped into my brain, refusing to leave until the story was told.

Do you have an early memory of how words were important to you?

Jamie Kocur is a musician, songwriter, writer, and occasional worship leader who blogs about worship and my struggle with it at Rebooting Worship. I have a church music degree from Florida State University, and after graduation she spent three years volunteering with the African Children’s Choir. She has been married to my wonderful husband for almost four years, and together they enjoy music, traveling, and photography.