Friday, May 15, 2009

What's your writing root?

Have you ever seen the movie But I'm a Cheerleader, where a girl gets sent away to a "straight camp" when her parents suspect she's gay? Remember the scenes where all the gay (and presumed-gay) kids are trying to figure out their "root," the one childhood memory that was responsible for their homosexuality?

Perhaps this is an odd leap, but Sruble just posted a set of questions for novelists that got me thinking about my "root" as a writer. In my response to her questions, I described my own writing "root," which occurred when I was six:
When I was six, my mother read us The Outsiders (not a typical book for a six-year-old, but I had older sisters and Mom read to us all together). When she revealed that the author was only 16, I decided at that precise moment to become a novelist. I knew grown-ups wrote books, but no one had ever told me kids could write! I started "noveling" that very day, in a green notebook I found in my mom's purse. My handwriting was big and clumsy and I could only fit ten or so words on a page, but for several days after, I happily chronicled the misadventures of "Tina Telanium, horse rider." All I remember is that she wore elbow and knee pads to ride her horse, and that she at some point battled a panther (probably because my big sister had recently read me Danger on Panther Peak.)

So writing a novel as a grown-up made sense; ever since I picked up that green notebook, I've been trying.

I'm curious. Do you have a "root," a moment in your life when you decided you would be a writer? Did you know you would write what you do, or did you just know you had something to say, even though you hadn't figured out yet how to say it? Were you taken seriously when you announced your intentions? Did you take yourself seriously, or did you just have this nagging feeling that you might be a writer, like it or not? Whatever your writing root, I would love to hear more about it!


Meg Wiviott said...

Yes, I have a writing root! I, too, was six. I decided the world needed more Little Bear stories so I proceeded to write them. When I showed them to my father (a college professor) he kindly explained the word "plagiarism" to me. That didn't discourage me from writing, only from ever showing him my work again.

P.S. I LOVE your cat!

Mary Witzl said...

I took myself very seriously. When I was six, I started making my own books out of lots of little papers stapled together and I wrote poems and stories on them.

When we were ten, my best friend and I wrote and illustrated our very own book which we entitled 'Free as the Wind'. It was derivative and horrible and we were so thrilled with it we did a book report on it, combining our first and last names to make up the author's name. If the teacher knew it was bogus, she never let on.

I always knew I was a writer. Even when I wasn't writing, I was obnoxious enough to consider myself one. Making it a reality is a long, tough slough.