Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hooked For Life

There are many reasons why people write, and why they might quit.

My parents are dead, for instance.  I'm evidently not writing to prove anything to them.

I discovered writing out of a love of stories, and a realization one day that hey, omg, I can write them too!  holy shit!

I was 7.  It was in summer, between first & second grade, at 402 W. Triumph Street, Ebensburg, PA, at the bottom of the hills the town was built on, down by the railroad tracks. I sat on the green couch by the east window in the living room in a striped tee shirt, jeans, and black Keds. My hair was pretty well buzz cut.

I wrote a story, The Big Fish, in a Tom Brown's Notebook, in pencil, using my knees as a clipboard. The story was about an imaginary adventure I and three friends had. Along with Scott Coons, my best friend, there was Marvin Hudson, who did a hilarious spazz creature at the Lyons Pool in Cresson, where I learned to swim when the teenaged bullies threw us in and told us we'd drown if we didn't learn fast, and Craig Weaver, who tried to act grown up all the time, much to our puzzlement. Craig had walked up to me first day of first grade, when I was terrified, and had punched me in the stomach. Then he said, "Now you punch me and we'll be friends." He was as good as his word, despite the bizarre logarithms by which he operated.

My story was about us going fishing together, of course, and about how we caught a fish too big to get into the boat. Our line breaks and the fish gets away. We are disappointed but also think it was cool how close we came, until Craig starts practicing the story he intends to tell about it. He plans to lie and say it was bigger than the boat. Scott and Marvin and I don't like this. So we tell him to shut up.

It was a great story, to me. Seemed both realistic and compelling, with elements of fantasy, even myth. It even included profanity; Craig had said, "Shit," at one point, something he really would have done.

I was so thrilled at the freedom, and the realization that I could make those pictures in my head come to life, that I ran to show my mother. I read it to her, "shit" and all, and she liked it. "But what can I do with it now?" I wondered. Even then, just writing it didn't seem enough somehow.

And she said, "Well, maybe you can get it published sometime." And I realized, with naive amazement, that the stories in all those books I loved so much had been written by people like me, and that is how they got into the books.

I was hooked for life.

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