Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Very Beginning...

Ever since I could hold onto a marker and scribble on paper, my first instinct was to start drawing. It’s what I have always done, and is still very strong today.

I always liked telling and making up stories, as well as reading excessively, but actually writing never really caught up to my attentions until the last few years. In fact, in elementary in Santa Fe, NM, I really didn’t like essay and writing assignments.

However, I did love to read; I was reading all the time! In elementary it was mainly fantasy and science fiction stuff—Robin McKinley and K.A. Applegate were really big for me. Of course, J.K. Rowling was up there, but a little later.

In fifth grade, my teacher would assign an essay subject that would be due by Thursday of each week. I always left it sitting on my desk until Wednesday night, and then I’d half-heartedly finish an essay. Once and a while there was a prompt or subject that caught my interest, but for the most part I didn’t like writing that much; but I liked making up stories.

I remember a few of my favorite prompts eventually led into stories—some I may even continue in the future. There are two that still stick out in my mind:

One is a lengthy story about a kid spending the night in a haunted mansion. I ended it rather abruptly because I was writing until late the Wednesday before the story was due. Teacher thought I should’ve kept going.

Another is a glimpse at what the future may look like: A kid living independently from his family, has a room with multiple storage walls and computers, and flies around on a hover-board device to catch aliens.

I still have my old writing journal stashed away. Some day I’ll have enough time to rewrite from these old notes.


By seventh grade I had refined my essay writing in the generic (and boring) “five paragraph format” everyone has probably grown to hate. I also seemed to be the only person my age who thought using more than five paragraphs and varying sentence and paragraph lengths was a good thing. Slowly, I was gaining interest in writing:

I began writing extensive notes on other worlds filled with dragons and magic. Of course when I look back at it all, I realize this is what practically every guy goes through (and many don’t truly grow out of, including myself.)

One day in Science class, there was a substitute who graded some essays we had written. As class was ending, he handed back mine and asked: “Do you read a lot of science fiction?”

I nodded, and he responded with a smile: “I can tell by how long your sentences are.”

It was actually a few weeks later that my English teacher assigned the class the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I instantly fell in love with the series.


My family had a tradition on Sundays: to go to this café called “Santa Fe Baking Co.” after church. It was always busy and slightly crowded, so once and a while people had to share the larger tables. On one of these occasions, we happened to share with a mother and a daughter that was a few years older than I.

The mother observed me sketching fantasy maps and writing notes and exclaimed: “My daughter does the same thing! Who do you read?”

I mentioned Robin McKinley; to which the mother responded with a long list of authors she wrote on a napkin. (I kept the napkin and found it a few years later; I had “discovered” a few authors on the list.)

This was probably the first real push to follow writing I had from someone other than my family*. Back then, I wouldn’t have even begun to imagine that I’d be writing short stories, essays, and articles that would get published, let alone read outside of my friends and family.

I’d like to take a moment to silently thank everyone that has encouraged me in some way. Try taking a moment to reflect who has helped you.

(*Other times it was teachers, but don’t all teachers write a note or two of encouragement to all their students at that age?)

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