I can remember my first book clearly, a large blue tome of Bible stories which my mother read to me every night of my childhood. Her husky voice spoke the words softly and her weight sloped the side of my bed towards her seat on its left edge. The most precious part of this memory is the security I felt as I lay there tucked into my comforter, with the person I loved most in the entire world, sitting next to me. My eyes would slowly start drifting closed, and I would sigh as I made a slight effort to stay awake—not to hear the end of the stories I knew so well but to hear the voice of the woman I love more than any other. My love of the written word has remained secure because of her. While my world changed rapidly—different schools, different friends, sometimes different states—my love of literature remained constant and my mother’s voice continued to bring me comfort in a world which was often stressful.
I still hear her voice every time I read a word off of a page. Her laughter echoes in my head when I am struck by a funny line, and I persevere with my education because of her diligence. When my classes become almost painful with their heavy load, I remember the weight she bore raising me alone for most of my childhood. My mother only ever read to me from a children’s Bible because she had no love of literature herself, but she instilled a love of reading in her daughter even so. I have only to think of what she did for me to know what I must accomplish for myself.
I can remember when the literature I read changed from the frivolities of youth to the romances of those decades my senior. The words of Julie Garwood’s “The Lion’s Lady” separated me from the world of my childhood before I even reached my teenage years. Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” showed me the dark side of romance at the beginning of my fourth grade year. Before much more time had passed, David Eddings’s “The Belgariad” series launched me into the world of fantasy, which in turn showed me the way to Piers Anthony’s worlds—where our unexplained sayings are real and understood.
These paragons of worlds unknown led me to discover Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series, which remains the heart of my library. Stephanie Meyer, Richelle Mead, and P.C. Cast recently captivated me with their paranormal romances—worlds of unimagined color and life, set in the very world which we inhabit. The words of my favorite authors have enthralled me. They have inspired me. It is my love of literature which prompted my desire to write. My dearest wish is to one day join the ranks of their names in the heart of a child just like me.
I remember the first book I ever wrote. In my fourth grade classroom in Lubbock, Texas my teacher handed me a simple, white folder. I do not remember her name, or even her face, but I see that little white folder in her slender hand. Inside that folder was a small white booklet, its pages as blank as its cover.
She knelt beside me in that fourth grade classroom and asked me to fill the pages of the booklet with a story. I asked her what I should write about, and she told me to write whatever I wanted. That was a day of liberty. That was a day of discovery. That was a day when a talking fox saved a forest and won the heart of his lady love…in a small white booklet.
I decided to become a writer when I was ten years old. This decision came the summer after my fourth grade year while I was sitting in a chair in my grandmother’s computer room facing the monitor screen. Mavis Beacon was leading me through the lessons which taught me to type with ease. The Oklahoma sun was shining through the blue curtains hanging in front of the window to my right, and I could hear my grandmother moving around in her kitchen. I could smell coffee brewing—I cannot remember a time when her old house did not smell of coffee—and the sound of the wind whipping the spiny seed pods from the sycamore in the front yard set the meter as my fingers raced across the keyboard.
My mind wondered as I listened. Although my eyes read the words scrolling across the screen and my fingers diligently tapped them out, my thoughts were on the dryads from David Eddings’s world. With my mind’s eye I saw them running through their forest home, laughing softly and whispering to the Trees—the Trees which were their shelter and their home, their life and their love. I imagined a world where one of those beautiful forest creatures was stolen away from her home, taken captive by a lord of Hell—a world where a child was born of this union, born and left with her father in Hell when her mother was saved from captivity and carried to Heaven.
I cannot remember when I changed from the Mavis Beacon program to Microsoft Word, but I can remember staring at the words I had typed on the computer screen. I yelled for my grandmother to come and read what I had written. I had written. For once, I was captivated and enthralled, not by the words of others, but by the words which I had created from a thought, an idea, the unseen reaches of my mind.
It was on that day I realized what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to create worlds from my imagination, paint scenes of romance and tragedy, comedy and adventure, light and dark. I wanted to write—to write something that would carry my readers to the world of my imagination and show them its wonders and its dangers. I wanted to walk the path of my characters’ lives and see where they led.
As I have grown as a writer, I have learned about myself as well. Some writers sit down to their story and plot it out event by event and then go into their world and fill in the blanks. Some writers start at the end and work their way to the beginning. Some writers focus on the climax they have imagined and build their characters around the event. I immerse myself in the world with my characters and allow them to show me their adventure.
I know who my characters are before their story begins; I have constructed their world for them out of my imagination; and I have given them a goal for which to strive. However, I have not created the ending; I have not constructed the final climax; and I have not set out a plot. I firmly believe that the characters of my world can fashion their own destinies if I allow them to do so.
The world in which we live, our reality, has separated me from my imagined world on many occasions. There are times when I have remained outside of it for over a year, but I keep going back. There is not a day that goes by without me feeling the pull of the pages I have already written. Yet fear remains. What if no one is ever as captivated by my world as I have been? What if I allow myself to sink into this world long enough to finish my characters’ journeys and find that no one but my friends and family will ever read it—that no publishing house will bind its pages of print?
I can remember a time when I did not fear. I can remember the sound of my mother’s voice reading to me as a child. I can remember the comfort of the sounds and smells of my childhood. I can remember the secure feeling of the keys of my keyboard beneath my fingers. I will remember, and I will write.