Let’s make one thing clear from the start. I know I’m a geek. I love to read, and I love to write (well, except when I can’t figure out exactly how to say what I want to say – you know what I mean? – that kind of drives me crazy.)
This geekiness of mine has its roots back in elementary school: I used to ask my teachers to stay in at recess to write. Seriously. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Engle, loved it. Sometimes I would grab any Encyclopedia, flip it open, and write about whatever topic I happened upon. This is how I wrote a factual story about the sun. Seriously. I wish I was kidding.
One of my favorite topics was ghosts, particularly ones that popped out of library books. I also worked on Nancy Drew-like mysteries, but with the main character named Julie, and her best friend, Beth. They traveled the world, visiting castles, and solving mysteries (involving ghosts, of course). These are the stories I wish I could find, but, alas, this childhood series has been lost somewhere along the way.
Mrs. Engle was the first teacher of mine to really nurture my writing. She suggested that we start a Friday writing workshop that met during recess, and anyone in the class could participate, if they so chose. Surprisingly, they did. A group of about six of us all met every Friday for the rest of the year, shared our stories, and wrote. It was the first writing group I’d ever participated in.
Over the years, I’ve had more than my share of classes and workshops. I’ve met famous writers. I drafted one novel when I was in high school (training wheels!) And went to grad school at The University of Chicago, where I drafted another novel—which I still have high hopes of (eventually) getting published. But my participation in all of these things has been driven by one thing: the desire to write, the desire to tell a story—and that’s been a part of me all along.