As a child, I religiously read every novel on my library’s endless wall of books. The wall stretched like a vertical staircase, a transformative ladder to an otherworldly realm where, at the very top, the magic word was inscribed: “Fiction.” At a red and yellow kiddie desk teeming with pencils, scissors, and glue, my five-year-old self longed to capture this alchemy of the written word. So, in the only way I knew, I began copying the text of Madeleine: “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines…”
By fourth grade, I thankfully started creating my own magic instead of replicating Ludwig Bemelmans’. As I read The Tiara Club books one day, imagined storylines swirled in my mind: in this book Princess Charlotte didn’t want roommates, but what if she did? “I’m Princess Charlotte. Pleasure to meet you…” I grabbed my gel pens and pink floral paper and began crafting a tale of four friends attending princess school. The paper unfurled into a world where dragons soared and the crotchety teacher Duchess Vernilda dwelt. I then tried intently to staple my sixty-page manuscript until my mom stopped me, saying that it should be bound.
Bound. She could have told me to store the papers in a binder or folder, but instead we went to Office Depot, where my story was bound like a real book. Like the books I cherished on the library’s ladder of fiction, on my bedroom bookshelf, and in my heart.
After the magic of the book binding, I started a refined Justice journal covered in scratchy silver glitter and a monogram J. Every night when I was alone, I’d grab my lizard-shaped flashlight and write by the rainbow-colored light emitting from his mouth. Here I discovered that writer feeling: the sense that you can’t possibly find words to describe the intangibilities in your head until, after time, you mold your experience like clay into an irrevocably true shape, color, and texture.
These lexical sculptures were crystallized in pages thick with my pencil’s indentations, but in time their construction halted. The farther the tide carries you, the more difficult to return to shore. The more adultness was imposed on me, the more I felt my writing–pure writing that transforms amorphous forms into well-shaped truths–sink into some remote recess of my mind.
Sitting outside one eleventh-grade night with a short story assignment, I was returned to this recess by a thought: the darkness cloaks its edges in inky black. Resonance flowed through my consciousness, over my heart, and into my words. Suddenly I was molding clay again.
As with book binding, there’s magic in seeing your words in print. That summer I read my story in a published anthology, in a library like my childhood haven where I peered at that once-lofty portal, crowned with the magic word.
I’ve transcended my unwitting plagiarism days immersed in Madeleine’s magic, but writing still casts a spell transforming walls into staircases, ideas into sculptures, papers into books.
Jacqueline LeKachman studies English Education at New York University and minors in creative writing. She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and loves how writing allows her to contribute to important discourses, critically consider her position in the world, and discover truths that feel intimately connected to her identity. An ice cream connoisseur and wire fox terrier fan, she hopes to become an English teacher who helps students write as a form of empowerment. Her fiction and non-fiction works have been published in the 2020-2021 issue of Mercer Street, NYU’s undergraduate publication; the 2020-2021 issue of West 10th, the NYU Creative Writing Program’s undergraduate literary journal; the NYU Wasserman Career Center blog; UPPER ST. CLAIR TODAY magazine; and the 2018 Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology.