My first recollection of reading and enjoying reading came in the form of Dr. Seuss and the book entitled “Go, Dog. Go!” I loved all the colorful dogs, the male and female dogs who were interspersed talking about hats, and the idea of a big party in a tree. I’m a big fan of parties and socializing, and I think the idea of being a party planner was instilled in me from reading the pages of that book. (Therefore it is no surprise that this year, my friends Jen, Kelly, and I are the social directors for our neighborhood pool and all its events.)
During my early years growing up, I was a busy kid and didn’t have a lot of time to sit and absorb a book. In my tween years, I read the “Little House on the Prairie” series and dabbled in the Nancy Drew mysteries. I also sunk my teeth into “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and “Deenie” by Judy Blume. However, my true love of reading came in my late teens when I got sucked into books like Jackie Collins’s tales of “Chances” and “Lovers and Gamblers.” From there I moved into novels with more guts like Rosamunde Pilcher’s “The Shell Seekers” and “Coming Home.”
I can recall sunbathing at my family’s beach condo in Ocean City by the pool and not wanting to go in for dinner because I was making my way through the last pages of a novel. I hated letting go of the characters, especially the ones I met in college in a book by Susan Richards Shreve called “Daughters of the New World.” I didn’t want to put that away, and when it was over, I mourned the end of those characters and their stories.
People always ask me if I prefer reading fiction or non-fiction. I actually enjoy both, though my book preference would be fiction. (I teach a magazine writing class where we read lots of longer non-fiction pieces, all of which I enjoy). I believe that in every fiction story there are elements of truth: of someone’s life that has been transformed into fiction, otherwise, how could an author really sink his or her teeth into it? Whether we’ve been to the moon or fought a deadly dragon, at some point in our lives, we’ve faced something that might have been seen as insurmountable, and we draw from that and put it in our work.
I wouldn’t be writing about a girl who worked in baseball if I hadn’t had that type of experience. I worked in baseball for a while, so I can paint the picture of the setting and the people and the game itself, even if the character isn’t me. Who is she, then? She is a conglomeration of many of my friends and colleagues.
Over the last several years, I’ve realized how much writing is a part of me. Whether I write for my blog or write fiction or short stories, there’s an innate desire to do it. If someone told me I wasn’t allowed to do it any longer, I’d probably shrivel up and die.
I certainly don’t do it for the money or the possibility of fame. Those things are low down on my rationale. I actually write for me, because I enjoy it, and because I like to push myself to see what I can create. Much like a painter paints, a writer writes to create as well.
My love of it is so strong, I find myself pushing my students to work harder to write from their own voice, to see where it takes them, and to concentrate on sentence structure and grammar. You can’t move someone if you can’t tell the story properly; you’ve got to have a handle on the mechanics in order to let the creativity fly.
I’m going to finish my novel soon, and I’m going to continue to write pieces for my blog.
* * *
To see a list of some of my favorite and most memorable books, check out the RECOMMENDED READS area on my blog by clicking here or to read some of my short fiction (I’m writing one piece of flash fiction a week based on a reader’s photograph called Fictography…click here to go to that section.)
* * *