Writing to Live

Writing to Live

My love affair with books began at a young age.

In my earliest memories, I always had a book with me. I recall being particularly fond of Monster at the End of this Book, There’s a Wocket in my Pocket, The Lorax and the ever wonderful Oh the Thinks you can Think. I’m told that I used to make my mother and grandmother read me the same book over and over until I could recite the book for memory, flipping through the pages, pretending to read long before I could.

I was the kid who took books with me to the playground at recess.  The library was my favorite playground. Even now, I love to stand in the middle of a book store and just bask in being among the books. On the way to my first job interview, to which I was nearly an hour early, I popped into the bookstore two doors down because I found the presence of the shelves bursting with my oldest friends comforting.

My love for writing started with my love for reading, my passion for good stories. I don’t remember a young adult section of my local bookstore when I was in high school. I remember borrowing the first two books of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials from my middle school library, waiting impatiently on pins and needles for the third book to arrive. I remember subsequently finishing the third book in my freshman year science class, unabashedly crying my eyes out in front of my classmates. I remember an older woman handing me Mercedes Lackey’s By the Sword which I didn’t read until years later, after I discovered the gem that was Vanyel’s story. I remember discovering C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy and Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  A good friend loaned me the Pern series along with David Eddings’s Belgariad. I’ve read The Neverending Story so many times, the cover of my copy has disintegrated.

I drank from those books like a thirsty woman lost in the desert. I lost myself in those worlds. No matter how hard teenage life became, I comforted myself with the knowledge those fantastical worlds were at my fingertips, waiting to whisk me away to better times, better places and wild adventures.

In seventh grade I was invited to take part in a class entitled Great Books. Books! I thought, Great! We read Lois Lowry’s The Giver and S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, but the real magic in that class wasn’t the reading. It was the writing.

I can’t remember the first time I put pen to paper to write my own story. I remember what the story was, but not where it came into existence. Great Books class was the first time I channeled that energy into real creativity. It was the beginning of my journey, the first time someone gave me the tools I needed to turn imagination into something someone else could share. I remembered the excitement I felt flipping through the pages of The Neverending Story and I wanted to share that with other people. I wanted to give someone else a chance to feel wide-eyed excitement as they turned the pages of a story I wrote.

We all loved that class because of the freedom. Some classes all we did was write. Our teacher let us sit wherever we wanted; on the table, under the table, sprawled across the floor, wherever we were comfortable.  We were allowed to write whatever our hearts desired as he serenaded us with music he wrote himself. We read our creations to the class and everyone wrote feedback on flimsy slips of paper. Mine meant so much, I kept them. I still have them. Since my first writing teacher passed away some years ago, I’m particularly fond of the encouragement he wrote in his neat, curly handwriting.

I kept the journals too, filled with random thoughts, scribbles, and my first attempts at ‘serious’ writing. They’re dribble, all of them. I was in seventh grade. I didn’t have the raw talent to write the world’s greatest novel. But I thought, at the time, I did. I knew I wanted to.

I still do.

From those first days, huddled beneath the two person table me and my best friend used to grab for ourselves at the beginning of every class, listening to our teacher sing about the evils of Mondays, I knew I wanted to write. There was never any question in my mind what I wanted to do when I grew up. No other path suits me. I’ve done the service industry. I’ve done the cubicles. There’s nothing wrong with those jobs, but they don’t make me happy.

I’m happy when I close my eyes and imagine the worlds I’ve created full of magic and mayhem, populated by  people I can’t wait to introduce to the rest of the world. That passion for good stories has never cooled. As a writer, I want to share the kind of stories I would enjoy as a reader with others who share my love for all things magical. Now I have the tools to craft that wonder.

Trying to take my first steps into the world of professional writing is exciting and terrifying all at once. I’ve shrunk away from putting my work into the hands of someone else for various reasons over the years, but the time has simply come. I’ve honed my skills over the years, scrapping old stories to start over, abandoning childish plots as I matured, zeroing in on the aspects that make a good story. Now it’s time to make the leap. It’s hard, but it’s the good kind of hard. And there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

One Reply to “Writing to Live”

  1. Great post! It’s so interesting reading how writers came to write. Reading good books seems to be the starting point for all of us.

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