I first learned to read when I was three, from a big book with a mottled red, black, and white cover that I decorated with Berenstain Bears stickers.*
At five, I surprised my kindergarten teacher by reading all the notes she would send home to my mother. Eventually she started to put them in sealed envelopes just to make sure my mom would read her notes before I did.
At nine, I had already read my beloved copies of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women into tatters–and everything else I could get my hands on. From my brother’s Encyclopedia Brown books to my sister’s Sweet Valley Twins, from Beverly Cleary and Lois Lowry to novels in my school library that nobody else had checked out in three decades. If there were words on a page, I read.
We had an art project that year, to draw whatever it was we wanted to be when we grew up. I only had one choice, obviously: I drew a book with three different-sized pages and an awkwardly lopsided pen, and announced I was going to be an author. (I certainly wasn’t going to be an artist, what with that kind of skill.) I loved to read, so it couldn’t be that hard to write, could it?
But that particular dream is still not realized, though it has stayed in my mind ever since. I took creative writing classes in high school and college, majored in English just to have an excuse to read, but walked out of graduation with not an inkling of a plan for my future beyond “I will write.” This turned out to mean I would wallow in retail for a while, scratch out ideas for stories and books in my spare time, and never bother to take the effort to turn them into anything.
I eventually landed myself in every reader’s dream job-–working in a bookstore. (No? Not every reader?) Surrounded by all those books tells a wannabe writer two things: 1. a lot of people write, and 2. all of those people are better at it than you. I think it was there that I decided to finally put the dream to rest and move on to other things. I went to grad school (library science, natch) and found one of those “real job” things.
Along the way, I also met my husband, an artist. His passion for creativity was catching, and I slowly started to get the idea again, of being a writer. Or at the very least, buying a journal and making myself do writing exercises every day, to relearn everything I’ve forgotten about writing. Just to prove to myself that the dream wasn’t silly, I can do it, and all I’ve needed to do to get there is actually doing the hard work.
So this is me. Showing off my bad poetry and stories-in-progress; reading and reviewing books new and old, fiction and non; and sharing what I learn about me and the world along the way. Forcing myself to put my words in front of others instead of hiding things away in my desk drawer. Comment, cajole, even criticize if you like–-I can only get better from here.
*By the way, if anyone can tell me what my learn-to-read book was called, I would be eternally grateful.