Sunday, October 08, 2006
When Did You Know?
It’s always interesting to hear when writers knew they were...shall we say...different.
Some say they’ve always written. Others say the desire was there, but left untapped for years. While others claim they came to writing from a more pragmatic head, through journaling or for a possible career change.
No rights or wrongs. Just good stories.
I am one of those “born that way” writers. I’ve always written, I imagine I always will. I don’t have to make time for writing--the need is so strong that I basically steal from other areas of my life (housework, cooking, sleep, etc.).
When I look back at my childhood, I can zero in on countless attempts at short stories and books. My Barbie imaginings went on for days with backstories and spin-offs. And I believed that the library--not Disneyland--was The Happiest Place on Earth.
But what shines brightest is an episode from 7th grade. It was lunch hour, and someone mentioned our book reports due next period. I’d totally spaced, hadn’t done mine. But I read 3 or 4 books a week, so no real crisis, right? I grabbed some looseleaf and started writing. I’m not sure why (and where I got the nerve because I was totally a good girl rule follower) but I started making the whole thing up. The title, the author, the plot, the conflicts, the black moment. Then the bell rang, we went to class, and I handed mine in.
I thought I was very funny. Daring. Smart. Until that night. When I started to sweat. WHAT would I do if the teacher caught on and demanded to see the book? Would I end up with detention? Suspension? Expulsion?
How could I explain something I didn’t even yet understand myself? That regurgitating someone else’s words had become too frustrating when I had all these stories of my own to tell? And while I wasn’t yet capable of writing a publishable book, I had an intuitive grasp on what a book was supposed to sound like. And I just had to try...
A day or so later, the teacher passed the papers back. I not only pulled it off, I got an A. (Wow!) And believe me, I never tried a stunt like that again.
So how about you, writer-friends? Can you point back to a moment or event from your childhood that foreshadows where you are today?
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