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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Makings of a Writer

As I assemble my thoughts about the DIY MFA idea, I thought it might be fun to consider how we all became writers in the first place.

 I became a writer at this little school pictured on the left.  This is how it happened.

I was in first grade.  It was library time and I had slipped away from the picture book area to the section with floor-to-ceiling shelves that housed the "big kid books."  I pulled a book from the shelf (I believe it was Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron) and stumbled my way through the first sentence or two.  Sliding the book back into place, it occurred to me: I could read this book.  I looked around the room and thought: I could read all of these books.  (OK, with some of them I might have needed some help sounding out the words, but still.)

That's when panic struck.   If I read all the books in the school library, there would be no books left to read and I'd be bored forever.  You must understand, while the library was rather small--nothing more than a large room with bookshelves--to me it was gigantic.  I thought the books in the school library were all the books in the world.

Back in the first grade classroom, our teacher Miss H must have noticed that I was out of sorts because she asked me what was wrong.  I told her and she nodded.

The next day, Miss H introduced a new activity for the classroom.  It was nothing more than two plastic paper trays--one filled with blank lined paper, the other empty--and a metal canister full of sharpened pencils.  Miss H explained that we were to write stories on the blank paper and draw pictures for a cover, then place them in the empty tray.  Each day she would staple the pages together to make a book (a real book!) and she would read them to the class at story time.

Immediately my fears of reading all the books in the world subsided.  After all, if I ran out of books to read, I could just write my own.  And then I could read them.  I would never be bored again! (Ah, the beauty of a first-grader's logic.)

And this, my friends, is how I became a writer.

How did you become a writer?  Was there one particular incident, person or place that helped spark your writing?  I love hearing how writers became writers, so please share!

5 comments:

Sonia said...

What a sweet story! Thank you for sharing it. I used to pretend like I had an imaginary friend (because I read about them in books and was jealous that I didn't have one!) and make up stories about what we did to tell my parents. I guess that's really how I started telling stories and, ipso facto, writing them down!

Merrilee said...

Ha! I read copiously from an early age, but didn't start writing until I had a few research papers under my belt. Then I had to make the transition from dry scientific to fiction. That was HARD. Now I'm completely hooked.

gabi said...

Great stories Sonia and Merrilee. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That is quite possibly the sweetest story I've heard in a long time! I became a writer for a similar reason: in school I couldn't find anymore books that I liked! So I started writing my own stories. I think I thought those were all the books in the world, too. Little did I know how many there really are!

Thanks for sharing this. :)

gabi said...

Michelle: Glad you enjoyed. I know what you mean about how many books there are. *sigh* So many books to read and so little time! We should invent a new day of the week just for reading. :)

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