I hesitated to write this post because it’s such a departure from most of my stories with their ties to the natural world.
But then I thought: maybe it’s not so different after all, because the story I’m about to tell really does relate to the natural evolution of the writer’s world.
But first, the spark for this post:
As you can imagine, I unearthed some interesting things.
And then there was this enchanting story about Lendle Lubunzie, a Luvatarian (“… As you are called Earthling,” he says to the main character, Tulip Jones, “I am a Luvatarian.”) Did I forget to mention that he’s from the world of Loveopia? Yeah, obviously I was into alliteration. This gem was written for a contest when I was in eighth grade. As this was the only entry, it won. (And, of course, Lendle loved orange Reese’s Pieces).
And then I came across the Holy Grail of finds. Letters – yes, plural – from Beverly Cleary. Sent to me thirty years ago (What the??? And thank you, Mom, for saving them!) I remember carting those letters around like they were gold. Star struck can’t even begin to describe the way I felt. I’m sure if you look, you’ll see some of my fingerprints deposited on the paper from over-handling.
I think something happened at that point – something my young mind wasn’t able to process. Sure, I was aware that Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume (and other authors) sparked my love of reading, my appreciation of words and story. But I think the personal correspondence from a “famous author” was a catalyst of sorts, an inconspicuous seed settling deep inside, waiting patiently to sprout.
But for years the seed lay dormant, unable to germinate as teachers encouraged me to become an educator. “You’re good at English. Become an English teacher.” I’m struck, today, at the fact that no one ever encouraged me to aspire to become an author, a writer.
Even I didn’t consider it. It was something other people did. Like Beverly Cleary. Not me. The first time I ever thought, “Hey – maybe I could try,” was a full year after I graduated from college – with my English and comprehensive communications teaching certification in hand, 7-12.
In a bookstore with my friend, Elana, I came across a book, So You Want to Write a Novel? A response reverberated inside of me, catching me a bit off guard. Yes! The answer was yes. All these years later. And just like that, the seed planted by Beverly Cleary began to take root.
For Writers: I realize that ‘what I wanted to be’ had been in front of me all along. The proof was before my eyes (seen above in my silly stories, and also in my career choice to write – not teach – for newspapers and magazines, and work in the communications field).
Yet the encouragement to pursue the fiction dream was never presented as an option. Only in 2010 did I begin to seriously dig back in to the fertile writing soil that has begged for cultivation all these years. This time, I believe it is an option. And dang it, I will tend to it, pursue it, nurture it.
When did you set down your writing roots? Did something or someone inspire you? Do you have any childhood proof?