The Tale of Raggedy Ann

As a kid, I loved making things up. I was very specific. I didn’t have imaginary friends. I had imaginary friends who were firemen. I wasn’t just a princess—I was a Korean princess with a diamond for a third eye (no idea where that came from). I played through disaster scenarios, hoarding and stockpiling stuff in my closet, and packed bags for emergency evacuation in case of a bomb. I slid notes behind the mopboards of my room with directions to treasure stashes for future generations (boy are they going to be disappointed). I convinced my friends we were being chased home from school by psycho killers, and my dad that an army of ants had embedded itself under my skin in a slow march toward my heart.

You know, normal stuff.

But my favorite accomplice, laboratory—and victim—in all my imaginary exploits was my sister.

Amy was five and a half years younger than me, sweet-faced, curly-haired and doe-eyed. She generally went along with my harebrained ideas and whatever abuse I shoveled her way (until the day, at age two, she hefted the chair of her play table Hulk-style and came at me and I went screaming to mom).

I taught her how to play Monopoly by the time she was three (the main reason I wanted a baby sister) and to read by age four. At the time I thought I was a genius teacher, but in retrospect I realize it’s because she’s really something of a prodigy.

A prodigy, but at the time, a gullible one, and super fun to torture.

I don’t know where I got the idea to convince her that her Raggedy Ann doll was possessed by Satan. Maybe after explaining to her I was Wonder Woman’s younger sister and that I had my bullet-proof bracelets in my closet I was out of fresh ideas. Maybe it’s because, candy heart or not, that triangle nose eyes and red ropey  hair freaked me out. Whatever the reason, I used up all my Dad’s dental floss rigging the thing and set it in the crook of her door, carefully stringing the floss down the hallway to my room. The next time I heard her go to her room, I grabbed the dental floss leads. Laughing maniacally, I jerked them like marionette strings til a blood-curdling scream sounded from down the hall.

I know I’m probably going to hell for that.*

In this video on my Facebook Page, Amy tells her side of the story.

71azLwh-DyLNow I have a question for you: What were some of your first ventures into creativity? Comment below. One person who leaves a comment befor midnight July 18th will receive a signed copy of Writing Right to Success, a compilation by Yvonne Lehman. I have a chapter in the book about my writing journey and another on writing stellar dialogue.

*A decade later, visiting a college girlfriend in Toledo for Christmas, I’d walk into the guest room of her parents’ house to find rows upon rows of Raggedy Anns and as many incarnations of her demonic boyfriend, Andy, staring at me. Her mother collected Raggedy Ann and Andys. Suffice it to say I laid down that night feeling the weight of a hundred glinting jack-o-lantern eyes on me and couldn’t sleep until I had turned every one of them around.

  • Brionna Wheaton
    Posted at 17:34h, 18 July Reply

    Haha, quite a bit of your story sounds similar to myself as a child. I hid a calligraphy written note to a non existent treasure in the basement of my cousin’s house, pretended I was a vast range of different people on walks home from school, created stories with my siblings, barbies, or even in writing from a very young age. One particular memory I have (from when I was maybe 7-10 or so) is that every summer we would go to a cabin that backed onto a huge wheat field. The neighbours next door were around our age, and I created a game based on favorite books, including toy sabres and what not, and we would spend hours and hours in the fields, creating maps and secrets hideouts, plotting against the other group, thinking up stories and codenames, etc. We played this same game every summer for years, and it has always been a highlight of my childhood. I’m sure some of those adventures have influenced my writing and creativity today.

  • Penny E. Stone
    Posted at 20:57h, 15 July Reply

    As a young child, I saved every single Sunday School take-home paper because I was going to make a book by combining all the stories into one collection. This was between ages 6=10. In high school, I was chosen to be my high school’s teen reporter for the local newspaper. Every week I would submit one to two articles about what was happening at school. This could be a special meeting or an outstanding pep rally or anything of interest. I would drop off my manuscript every Friday after school at the newspaper office. The following Tuesday, I would receive my manuscript back with my check. The manuscript would be marked up with red ink! At this point, I’d get the newspaper my article(s) were printed in and compare word-for-word between what the paper printed and what my manuscript said. This is how I learned grammar and how to write. If there was a change I didn’t understand, I would call up my editor and ask her why she made the change. Lucy was always very patient with me and took her time to explain why she marked my manuscript the way she did..She was a jewel! In college God called me to write and the rest is history.

  • Stephen Pollard
    Posted at 14:56h, 14 July Reply

    Ah, to be young siblings scaring the hell out of each other. I was the youngest, so I was usually the victim.

  • Jen in TX
    Posted at 14:35h, 14 July Reply

    I, too, have a sister 5 and a half years younger. I managed to convince her we were both adopted and were actually members of the Royal Family. Go figure.

  • Larry Greene
    Posted at 17:40h, 12 July Reply

    As a young boy, I used to come up with ideas to make some money, like making miniature switchblades out of rubber bands and popsicle sticks, or creating my own miniature Punderful newspaper( gotta wait for the next edition…). When my son was very young, I decided to return to a mock miniature comic book with two unlikely superheroes, SalaMan ( me) and Newtboy (my son) who had to fight the infamous Tubplug. My son, now 34, still remembers our Punderful effort!

  • Michael Emmanuel
    Posted at 10:25h, 12 July Reply

    Narrating tales that were not so amusing and ensuring the kids, who were not much younger than me, laughed till they cried. Then gathering them the next day to relive the same set of tales, this time with a little twist (like the tortoise having a rough shell before meeting the princess and not after) and repeating the laughter exercise. What else? Hmm. Ever attempted painting two athletes on one paper, or renaming them? I also did put the lowest denomination of our currency in a borrowed envelope (from my brother) and handed it to a girl with the claim that I liked her. How impressed I was. How disappointed she was.
    Besides that, I wasn’t much of a creative person – except the evening I drank a quarter volume from the juice been reserved and refilled with water…

  • Patricia Beal
    Posted at 04:07h, 12 July Reply

    When I was 6, I had 24 colorful tulle sachets that I paired up on top of a big oval mirror my mom let me put on the floor. The sachets danced beautiful minuets. Their favorite was Bach’s Minuet in G Major. At age 8, I upgraded to a half-sister who was also 8–no mirrors involved. Soon we began to put together whole plays and ballets in an extra (and very formal) dining/living room no one ever used. We staged many versions of Romeo and Juliet for my mom and her dad–half play/half ballet. She always let me be Juliet 🙂 I still had the sachets (scent mostly gone at that point), and she liked to make them dance, too, but she was a lousy choreographer and had the musicality of an artilleryman with a dozen years of service. That was a great creative start, I think. Now I make up book characters, and what do they do? They dance, of course. My debut comes out next year and starts with an illicit kiss between a famous German dancer and a small town professional ballerina who are on stage rehearsing Romeo and Juliet 😉

    • tosca
      Posted at 23:23h, 19 July Reply

      Patricia, you are the winner of WRITE RIGHT TO SUCCESS! Please email with your shipping address and we’ll send your book. Congratulations.

  • Elizabeth Buzard
    Posted at 03:19h, 12 July Reply

    To this day my younger sister blames me for her lack of creativity. When we were little, we used to act out stories together as I made them up. She claims that she never leaned how to make up her own stories because I always bossed her around. I saw it more as directing a willing actor. Of course, when she got old enough to think for herself, I had to move on to Barbies instead. Barbies don’t talk back or add their own dialogue.

  • Becky Herfkens
    Posted at 23:29h, 11 July Reply

    My church, at one time, used small, poster-board thickness cards for those who participated in communion to fill out and hand to the usher on their way up to the altar. I took a few of those and a pencil and began writing a horror story during the sermon. It was an absolute splatterfest about a possessed doctor. After a while (and more writing during sermons on communion cards), it got too bloody for me and I threw it away. My brother says to this day he wishes I still had it.

    • Becky Herfkens
      Posted at 23:30h, 11 July Reply

      I was maybe 10 or 11…..

  • Josie Siler
    Posted at 16:21h, 11 July Reply

    I was the queen of secret clubs. I had a few with different friends. I made us pay dues to be in these secret clubs with secret hiding places. We would use the dues to buy candy which we would eat in the secret place in my very small town. Of course there was always someone we were trying to escape and a grand story to go with each adventure that always ended with a sugar high. I was recently disappointed to learn that my mom knew where all our secret hiding places were… I guess I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought!

  • Autumn Grayson
    Posted at 20:50h, 09 July Reply

    When I was younger and I saw something cool, like a toy horse, part of me just had to draw it.  I also kinda did what you did, play games where bad guys were after me and my sister, except I would pretend that some of our toy horses were pack animals or pulling a cart and taking us far away from danger.  I would day dream and pretend that a persona character I had invented was interacting with characters from movies I liked.  Little did I know that I was practically writing fanfictions in my head with those daydreams.  The original stories I invented had stuff in them that was more morbid and creepy than I realized at the time.  I didn’t come up with disturbing things often, but I see that I did sometimes, completely unaware of how other people might perceive those things.

    My over active, creative imagination is probably what kept me afraid of the dark most of my life.  My parents were always very careful to keep me from watching scary shows, but I would be creeped out by things most people would not expect.  I would imagine something was out in the dark to get me, even though I knew there was nothing there, and had a hard time walking into a dark room by myself.  But, if I was with another person, my imagination usually wasn’t able to keep me afraid in the dark.

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