Thursday, July 5, 2012

And Then A Reader Was Born


My mom likes to tell everyone she meets that I was born reading a book. I think I actually learned to read when I was four, that is the earliest memory I have of sitting down with a book to actually read the words - not just look at the pictures and imagine. I like to credit that early reading compulsion with turning me into not only a lifetime reader but an author, too.

I've had a ton of influences in my life. My mom and elementary-school-teacher grandmother (who got me hooked on non-Seuss books) pushed me not just to read for work but for fun. I had this teacher in high school (didn't we all?) who always pushed me to do more...and nearly every creative writing assignment I turned in, she wrote, "I can see this as a novel". Then she would give me a B (sometimes a B+) because she wanted more. But those comments, oh, they were inspiring. Listening to my talented husband on the radio inspires me to really work hard and pay attention. Watching my daughter grow and expand her knowledge every day is inspiring, especially since her first days were such a struggle. The list goes on.

One of my biggest influences? The Choose Your Own Adventure books. I remember vividly staying up late, reading by flashlight under the covers to see where those Adventure books would take me next...and thinking about where I might take them. When I discovered those books, I realized that I could control the book. I could 'write' the book, at least a version of it, by deciding what should happen next. I discovered my first Adventure book just after I turned 7 - yeah, way too young for them and I had to look up a LOT of words. But I couldn't stop reading them. I made different decisions and read and re-read the books until pages started falling out. It was soon after that that I started seriously writing stories - some of them still live in a basement somewhere. Most have been destroyed over the years.

When I think about my writing career, I give a lot of the credit to Mom, Big Mommy (my grandmother) and the Adventure books..because they all had a hand in making me a reader. And that turned me into a writer.

Were you (and are you) an avid reader? Who was your influence?