Hop on over to Christine Tyler's The Writer Coaster if you want to join in the Sparkfest fun. It's not over yet, my friends!
I have a confession to make: I was never a very strong student. Even with reading. I could devour books at home, but what about school? What about being "forced" to read? I had a hard time getting things done, but I did find myself... kind of not hating everything we read as much as my classmates. Like how I inexplicably loved Moby Dick at age 10.
Of all the books I read in school, though, there are three that really stick out as sparks of the writer I would eventually become.
The first was Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I read it in fifth grade (same year as Moby Dick... weird). I loved that dog (we had a beagle, too).
Reading Shiloh truly spurned me to add "author" to the List of Things I Wanted to be When I Grew Up. Other notable contenders: veterinarian (short lived once I realized what it would involve), actor (still working on that one), doctor or nurse (see vet, above), and, "anything but a teacher" (but perhaps I was just being rebellious).
The summer between my eighth and ninth grade years, I read To Kill a Mockingbird. It changed my life. What fascinated me even more than the voice and the story and the world and Boo Radley, though, was learning about Harper Lee. The fact that she published only one book, that it was the only story she felt she had to tell, exhilarated me.* I knew then that I, too, had at least one story inside me I would have to tell, even if I didn't know what it was yet (I do now, though--and I just got cold chills). And if it was only one story, just one book? All the more beautiful, in my fourteen-year-old eyes.
*(Of course, that's the romanticized version.)
Tim O'Brien fascinated me. Hearing his story made me think of writing in a whole new way--again. I saw the healing it could bring, the connections it could make. And I wanted to be able to do that, too.
Tune in next time for the sparks that finally--and officially--got me to write my first novel.
Oh, that first novel.