I began writing around the age of seven at an antique school desk in the corner of my bedroom. I’m not sure if it was the act of putting words to paper that first enthralled me, or the fact that I could lift up the little desk top and cram all my pencils and papers and scraps of scribbled thoughts underneath like treasures. A few years later, I graduated to a typewriter that I kept in a closet on top of a card table. While other kids were off riding bikes or playing softball, I was hunkered in the closet with my mother’s old Underwood. I eventually came out of the closet to win recognition, especially from my English teachers, and even a plaque from the Scholastic Magazine national writing competition.
To this day, I’m still not sure which is truer: If I wrote to escape the fact that I couldn’t run fast enough to keep up with the other kids on the playground, or if I just didn’t make hopscotch and Red Rover and all those other things kids ran around doing a top priority because they’d take me outside away from my writing desk. I do know that my middle finger on my right hand is calloused and slightly crooked from gripping my pencil for hours on end, and I still notice it with pride as I’m tapping away on my keyboard.
I consider daydreaming an art form. “Where were you just then?” my parents would ask when they caught me blankly staring off into space. I know now that I was doing research, gathering my thoughts, pondering my next story line. But back then, my lack of response and general participation in life was probably scary. Fortunately, all this contemplation eventually turned into a writing career and sitting around staring became an occupational requirement. “Mom are you sitting on the edge of the bed daydreaming again?” Helen or Becky would ask when their dad was already out in the car, ready to go somewhere. They didn’t know it then, but those frequent lapses into semiconsciousness were prerequisites for my profession. I wasn’t just sitting on the edge of the bed, I was honing a craft that would later help put them through college.