The Birth of a Writer

This is a DPChallenge post.

This week’s challenge asks how I became a writer. It’s been a long journey, for sure, and I didn’t always want to put pen to paper.

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. My favorite when I was very little was Noisy NoraI had my mom read it to me so many times that I memorized it. Mind you, this was before I was old enough to actually read, but I had it memorized so well that I ran my hands along the words and turned the pages as I ‘read’ it. Apparently, I fooled my dad’s twin into thinking I was actually reading it. Needless to say, he was very impressed with a toddler reading.

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If I think hard enough, I can still remember bits and pieces from this book.

Along those lines, I first started writing when I was very young. I would sit at the kitchen table with my crayons and construction paper, industriously pounding out book after book. My stories always rhymed and included very colorful illustrations. Mom would then staple the pages together, and presto! a book. As far as I know, she’s still got them tucked away somewhere. I only remember the plot line of one of them. It was something about a man with a hat who was distracted by a cat. In his distracted state, he sat on his hat. Then of course, blames the cat and chases after it. It was gripping stuff.

I remember being in awe every time I set foot in the public library. All those books! I could still literally spend hours in a library. When I was a kid, I would spend a great deal of time scouring the library shelves for interesting books to fill a tote bag with. At least once a week, I was there. All the librarians knew my name and what kind of books I preferred to read. Unsurprisingly, if anyone asked me at the time what I wanted to be when I grew up, I invariably said ‘an author.’ There was no doubt in my mind. And that sentiment continued until I noticed boys in middle school.

Right before the death of my writing career at the hands of various boys, I tried my hand at several novels. I was really into R.L. Stine at the time, so horror was obviously my preferred genre. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then good ol’ R.L. should count himself flattered. I took his Fear Street series and imitated it almost to the point of plagiarism. Although, my ten-year-old brain didn’t know what that was. I never did finish a single draft of any of my ‘novels’ but I sure did enjoy writing what I did.

Then, as I said, boys happened. And I barely read anymore, let alone wrote. The only words that entered my brain were coming from class assignments and love notes from boyfriends. Stupid boys. What a waste of my intellect. (Kidding. Boys are perfectly nice. Sometimes.)

So by the time I graduated high school, I had my eyes set on a completely different career path. One that seemed more ‘realistic’ as my mom would say. And all thoughts of becoming an author flew out the window (along with tens of thousands of dollars in tuition money). I got my degrees and went about job hunting, only to be turned down around every corner. Then I started writing for fun, and lo and behold, I liked it. More than I’d liked anything in a long time. So I kept at it. And kicked myself for not getting a creative writing degree or something like it.

It was only recently that I realized I’d actually been writing all the time that I was focused on other things. It may not have been in the form of novels, or even short stories, but I was writing. I would sit in my high school/college classes and write little scenarios in my notebook. Sometimes a friend would draw a picture and I would make up a story about it. Sometimes I made up stories about my professors. Sometimes I made up stories about nothing at all. What I was doing was flash fiction, some of which bordered on becoming a short story, and my college notebooks contain more random ramblings than actual notes. I’m not sure how I managed to do so well in school.

Anyway, it seems what I was meant to do was trying to get my attention. It only took almost fifteen years (that’s really depressing) for me to pay attention.

It’s amazing what a person can know when they’re a kid, but lose track of as they grow older. If I never would’ve doubted myself, or gotten distracted by a myriad of other things, I would’ve been honing my craft this whole time. Instead, I feel behind other writers my age. But that’s a story for another day!

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