So, all fiction writers are pretty damn good liars, right? I mean, this is what we do—think up fantastic lies, write them down, and hope people will read them. And if we’re good, really, really good, well…then people believe them.
My writing roots definitely trace back to when I was a kid. See, my house was a bit of a rough place to grow up. It wasn’t the worst—lots of kids have it much worse—but it was far from the best. So when we’d come back from winter vacation and my teachers made us write those horrid essays about what we did over our break, I kind of freaked out—at least the first time. Because, I mean, I couldn’t write the truth. I sat there, looking around, hoping the answer would come to me as I watched others busily scribbling away. What to do? And that’s when it hit me…
Make. It. Up.
So that’s what I did. Made up brilliant, wonderful, tv sitcom kind of shit that I wished were true. I know, I know. TV is supposed to be like terrible for kids nowadays, but I swear I learned all about storyline through shows like The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and all those other 80’s family sitcoms that had a nice, neat combination of conflict, humor, drama and resolution.
Anyway, when I wrote these essays, I’d get lost in the “perfect” holidays I would create on the page. By fifth grade, I could write you a freakin’ Norman Rockwell painting and teachers would smile and nod at my terrific string of lies. I could read it up in front of the class with a big smile at the end, just to prove how fantastic it was even though it wasn’t. Those essays eventually became fun to write and something I even looked forward to. And yeah, they’re frowned upon now, but I’m pretty sure they’re why I started writing fiction.
I can also trace my writing roots back to the local public library and the two block walk it took to get there. As I passed the houses on my way, I’d wonder what happened behind each closed door. I would occupy my solitary walk by making up stories about what was going on inside. Some of them were sweet—like my Christmas stories. Some of them were scary—empty houses full of angry ghosts looking for revenge. And some of them were creepy—what if one of them held the body of a person trapped in a basement for fifty years and the decomposing corpse was still there, gooey and oozing and sticking to the floor (because in addition to family sitcoms, I also had an affinity for Tales From The Darkside, The Twilight Zone, and other scary movies). These walks were the perfect pre-activity to my library visits, because when I’d finally get there I’d head straight to the kids section eager to immerse myself in imaginary worlds.
That library was a sacred, wonderful, magical kind of place, and those essays were like those teachers you kind of hate, but years later realize were actually not that bad and maybe even put you on some kind of right path. And those walks were time I needed to come up with my own stories. They all helped me become a writer—a damn good liar.
What can you trace your writing roots back to?
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