Did you ever read Bridge to Terabithia or Tuck Everlasting? What about The Phantom Tollbooth? Any of the Ramona Quimby books?
I did. I remember reading all of those books. While some of the details of what goes on in those stories are hazy, I remember how they made me feel. Adventurous, brave, curious. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to “do that”, create worlds and stories that readers just didn’t want to put down.
It’s funny. All I’ve ever wanted to do is write and I’ve managed to do so in some way for a while now. I’ve been lucky, besides the time I got caught writing on the living room wall with a red lipstick, that my love of reading and writing has been praised and encouraged.
I know that I write because I truly enjoy it. I feel the most like myself when I’m actively putting words down to figure out what’s happening or could happen in a story. Writing is also therapeutic and healing to me.
But when did this love turn into the thing that I must do? When did it get serious for me? Was it gradually or all at once?
Recently the Lit Hub article The Books That Made Your Favorite Writers Want to Write came across my Facebook timeline. Writers like Sherman Alexie and Zadie Smith know the exact book that made them want to be writers. How cool is that? Something locked into place for them and they knew or decided that they wanted to “do that” too.
The last few days I’ve been wondering which book(s) made me want to write. Was it Ramona Quimby, Age 8? Onion John? Maybe a short story from the anthologies I read in high school. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, maybe? Was it poetry in college? Nikki Giovanni’s Ego-Tripping, perhaps?
At this point it would be nice to know what tipped the scales for me, but I don’t think it really matters.
I’m writing. I am a writer.
I’m (still) currently reading Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters. I got stalled on chapter 3 with Fred Holt the bus driver for a while. I’ve been reading slowly because the prose is beautiful and careful and deliberate. I like Fred. The way he observers everything going on around him and splices it in with his own thoughts. But also I’m reading slowly because there are a lot of characters in the book and events don’t seem to be as clear as they seem (read: I got confused at the end of chapter two and had to reread it). It’s also a good book pairing for the current political times.
I’ve also been spending time on the Creative Nonfiction website reading stories of a true nature in preparation for a workshop assignment. The last time I wrote nonfiction I was in graduate school. The only feedback I remember from class was, “Krystal, this doesn’t sound like you.” Cringe…Everyone in that class was white and only an acquaintance, so I’m not sure what they expected after knowing me for five minutes. I mean…I think I know, but…
I enjoy nonfiction, but like my workshop group said it is out of my comfort zone. I’ve been batting ideas around and drafting, but I’ve not settled on one topic to write about yet. I don’t want to write about myself. I don’t like feeling exposed, up for examination. Besides there aren’t too many ways to creatively dress up events in my life. At least I don’t think so.
My literature students have been writing some creative essays on various short stories too. I’ve been thoroughly entertained by their discoveries from stories like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and Cheever’s The Swimmer. The end of the quarter is near and they have one more essay to write. Which means I have one more set of essays to read.
So lots of reading on my end.. I have this idea to revisit a few books I never finished for whatever reason. I have a short list growing in the back of my head. Once I finish Salt Eaters I’ll see what I can do. The guilt of not finishing a perfectly good book eats at me.
What are y’all reading? My TBR list is never too full. 🙂