Nov 05, 2010
A Literary Thanksgiving
This week it's Thanksgiving and like any other sap in the country, I can't help but muse about all the wonderful and touching things that I've come across in my life. As a writer, one of these wonderful things is (and always has been) reading. I can't remember a time when reading wasn't a part of my life and that's something for which I'm exceedingly grateful. My family encouraged me socially, in sports, in academics, and, most importantly, they knew when to leave me alone in my room with my tea and my books. For that, I'm fantastically thankful.
I was recently turned on to a website that features essays by different writers regarding when they realized they'd fallen in love with reading (it's been around for a while, but I'm always catching on to things a bit late) and it reminded me of way back when I first fell in love with words in books. Reading was one of my first loves and, as a student coming up on a short holiday break, I know exactly how I'm going to spend those few delicious days (hint: it involves clicking away on a Kindle or flipping some pages). But I wonder, more than remembering when they fell in love with reading, what these writers remember about deciding they wanted to be a writer.
There are so many people who love to read (my grandfather was one of these, my mother and aunt, too) but never feel the need to pick up a pen or switch on a computer and write something that others would read. I find that, maybe more than falling in love with reading, I remember falling in love with the idea of being a writer. Of course, falling in love with an idea and completing that idea are entirely different, but, for most writers, that moment is the turning point of their lives.
I fell in love with reading at an early age but the first book I remember loving was called the Agony of Alice, a coming of age story about a young girl. I'd been devouring books for years before this and, after the Agony of Alice, I racked up YA titles--Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet, Julie of the Wolves, Tuck Everlasting, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, etc. etc.--but I think I really fell for reading when I stated getting into books that I wasn't supposed to be reading at a young age. In middle school I started dabbling in the horror and thriller genres--Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, and Anne Rice to name a few--and that's when I remember wanting to be a writer. I wanted to write books that had the excitement of a Patterson novel, the haunting and suspense of a Stephen King piece, the language detail and alluring characters of an Anne Rice series. So I stayed up and read Bag of Bones, Kiss the Girls, the Vampire Chronicles, then I opened my notebook and started trying to write novels of my own.
Over a decade later, I'm still piecing together my own novels and, maybe even more than reading, I am incredibly thankful for the moment I decided to try my hand at writing. Like family, friends, good times, good luck, and other regulars I pile on my annual Thanksgiving "things I'm thankful for list," reading and writing are close to the top. And even if I'm never published and even if my colleagues ridicule me for revealing the genre skeletons in my reading closet, I'll always be glad that I loved reading enough to become a writer. Read essays about falling in love with reading here.