I'm not one of those writers who always knew she wanted to write. I didn't keep a journal, write fan fiction stories about my favorite singers or movie stars, or scribble wild flights of fantasy when I was growing up. I always hated creative writing assignments in school, because I never thought my ideas were any good. I had no clue how other people managed to come up with such imaginative stories. I assumed I didn't have it in me. Or did I?
When I was lying awake in the wee, small hours this morning--as I so often do--a memory popped into my mind for no reason I can think of. It was the memory my father sitting on the side of my bed when I was four or five, telling me and my younger sister bedtime stories. I don't remember the story lines, but I'll never forget desperately wanting to know what happened next.
My father was a Harvard-trained lawyer and not someone you would expect to have a particularly vivid imagination, but he made up stories that held us rapt. Actually, it was one long story, told episodically, like the 1930's radio serials he had grown up with. The heroine was Iva Marie, a plucky young lady of uncertain age but old enough to have adventures of her own with her maid/sidekick, Nettie Jane. The two girls were accompanied (and chauffeured) on their escapades through New York City by Tony the Taxicab Driver. As I recall, their adventures included all manner of "baddies", and at one point Tony had to drive the cab, with the girls inside, into the Hudson River to escape. With that kind of influence at an early age, I guess I shouldn't be surprised I ended up as a writer.
Fast forward thirty years to my own days as a young parent. When my daughter was born, I quit my job and stayed home with her for eight years. For the first three years, I was her primary playmate, and I loved it. I didn't create fantastic bedtime stories like my dad, but we did act out elaborate situations with her collection of Cabbage Patch dolls. While she was in charge of the stories, my job was to invent and maintain a different voice for each one. It was more of a challenge than you might think.
Somehow, subconsciously, the time I spent with these two natural storytellers must have spurred me to try my hand at writing fiction. In my mid-thirties, as soon as my daughter started preschool, I began my first book. And although that was many years and seven books ago, some things haven't changed. I still want to know what happens next.
P.S. - as a retreat from the mid-summer heat or an antidote to political hoopla, my short story collection Small Town Christmas Tales is on sale for $0.99 all month!