I knew I wanted to be a writer soon after I discovered the wonder of reading. I read my first “thick” book, on my own, in 2nd grade. It was called Otis Spofford, by Beverly Cleary. Of course all her other books followed: the Beezus and Ramona series, the Mouse and the Motorcycle, Henry Huggins. Then I moved on to Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roald Dahl, and eventually, Judy Blume. I giddily looked forward to those book clubs from which you could order books in elementary school (do they still do that, btw??). Reading opened up a whole new world for me, an exciting world where I could escape from the everyday monotony of being a kid in the 70s. On a military base. In Kansas. With a little brother who drove me up the wall and beyond.
I read so much that it was messing with my pronunciation. I knew what words meant, in context, but I’d never heard them spoken, so I’d pronounce them all wonky, much to my parents’ amusement. Example: I can’t tell you how utterly crushed I was to find out that a book I had read about a magical island (it was something about a dragon and an island and I’ve been searching Amazon but can’t find it) was just an “eye-land” and not an “izz-land”, which in my head was a magical, mystical place. I was devastated. The book was ruined for me. There was another time when I breezily referred to heredity at the dinner table and couldn’t understand why my mom was snorting – I had pronounced it “herra-ditty”.
I got my own bedroom for the first time when I was in 4th grade. My dad let me move into his office in the basement, the one he built when we moved into the tiny duplex on base. I slept on a fold-out couch with a “sump pump” in the corner, but I didn’t even care because I COULD READ ALL DAY LONG AND NO ONE WOULD INTERRUPT ME. Also, since I now slept in the basement with no windows, I could sleep late on the weekends without the light waking me up. Yes, my habits started early. Shut up.
My summers in Kansas were spent reading novel after novel in the basement and then riding my bike to the library with my BFF Meredith once or twice a week to load up on new books. I probably read 4-5 books a week, seriously. I always gravitated to fiction, and that is where I remain to this day. I know lots of people who diligently read self-help books or how-to books or educational books – but I’ve never been able to get that into anything but fiction because reading anything else reminds me of required reading in college. Which I hated. It’s the rebellious streak in me, I suppose. I can’t get into most nonfiction, no matter how hard I try. I just don’t enjoy it and it takes me for. ev. ah. to finish. And if I’m going to tax my tired eyes at night with more reading (beyond the computer all day long) I’m going to read something fun, something that helps me escape. The one exception to the nonfiction rule is the memoir – for some reason I love reading about other people’s fucked up childhoods. Go figure.
I enjoy books way more than movies. I’ve never been one of those people who has seen every cool movie that comes out – I usually catch it later on TV or HBO and don’t feel I’ve missed that much. The book was probably better anyway. Movies are an escape, don’t get me wrong, but an escape that only lasts a couple of hours. A book can get you into your imagination for days, even weeks at a time. I’ve never understood people who don’t enjoy reading. I just don’t get it. You can go anywhere in the world and beyond! You can experience everything! How utterly freeing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished a good book and felt such a sense of loss that the funk hangs on for a couple of days, as I’m depressed to no longer be a part of that world. Until I find the next one…and there is always another world to explore, another story to tell.
All of this to say, I have always known I wanted to write. I wrote my first “book” when I was in 5th grade, and it was a very detailed science fiction story that I can still picture very clearly in my head. I’m quite confident my mom has it somewhere in the attic… I went through the bad poetry phase in high school, and then got more serious in college. I used to think I wasn’t old enough to write a novel because I hadn’t done enough. Today I realize I’m 36 and damn, I probably have stuff to say, stories to tell. So what have I done about it? Well, almost two years ago I started this blog thingie...
...to be continued...