I’ve been doing several interviews for book bloggers and for promotional materials. One question that often crops up is “When did you start writing and what made you do it?”
Here’s my story.
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t making up stories. Children, of course, are highly imaginative, and I know my parents read to me and encouraged me to look at books. I loved hearing stories! So it seems to me that the genetic pump was being primed. (I had a great-grandfather who wrote stories for a newspaper.)
In the 1950s, children did not learn to write and read until first grade. Amazing, but true, and I feel like a fossil! I can hear someone saying, “You didn’t learn to read or write until when??” But it’s true. We didn’t, unless of course one of us was exceptional.
I have memories of gathering up my fellow first grade classmates during our recess on rainy days and telling them stories. The teacher eventually broke my sessions up because apparently, I was spinning some yarns that either made my friends laugh hysterically or scream. I can’t remember which it was, only that the teacher thought things were getting a little out of control. So “no more stories, Janet.”
Once I learned to write, it dawned on me that I could put stories on paper. That meant I could write a book! So, from the time I was 8 or 9 I dreamed of publishing a book. My first attempt was a story about the Wizard of Oz. Now that I think about it, it's kind of crazy. I was writing fan fiction before it became a thing. But it makes sense. I had read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, seen the movie, and enjoyed a TV cartoon based on the novel. So I was familiar with the stories and the characters. I wrote my first tale on lined paper and illustrated it myself. Okay, confession time. I copied drawings of the cartoon characters but, hey, I was trying. Books had illustrations, right? Well, my book was going to have them, too.
When I became a teen, the Beatles were big, and naturally I was a fan. As a result, I took to writing stories about the Beatles, co-starring me and my friends. These I let a select group of pals read. They encouraged me to write more and I obliged. In addition, I had an on-going serial that I told on the spot to one other friend. I never wrote it down. One of us always remembered where I left off, and I’d pick up the story. I just made the thing up as I went along.
In my high school yearbook, we all were asked to write a comment about ourselves and our futures. Mine was that I wanted to get a book published “before I die.” Hey, me of 1970: you did it, chica! You had to wait until you were nearly 60, but you did it.
Yeah. Once you’re bit by the writing bug, you get bit good.
The other day, Dan’s daughter, Kristina, and her 10-year-old son, Gordy, came over to my house because we were going to see a movie. Gordy looked at the piles of books sitting on my dining room table and asked, “Are all these your books, Mimi?” (Mimi is my granny name.)
I said, “Yep. They’re all mine.”
He thoughtfully looked them over a bit more, lifting the covers and looking at the interiors. Then he turned to his mom and said, “I must have got Mimi’s genes because I like to write, too!”
Kristina and I had a little chuckle over this. I’m a step-granny. Gordy and I do not share DNA. But maybe I do have something to do with his love of writing. You never know. Osmosis? Or maybe it is good parenting, because he has very good parents who read to him and encourage him to read and write now.
Regardless, I’m glad this amazing boy likes writing. He told me he is going to write a horror story and then make a movie of it with his friend. I have no doubt he’ll do it. He's made other little movies. Kids today have access to technology that a kid like me never even dreamed of. All I could do was scribble on lined paper. Gordy has access to a computer and the technology to make movies all his own. This kid may be headed for film school.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll be the next Steven Spielberg or JK Rowling. Or maybe he'd be both - a "triple threat" of writer/producer/director.
Best of luck, Gordy. Mimi loves you!
Once the writing bug bites you, you get bit good.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder