Where Stories Begin

It all started when I was about five or six years old and I got my first diary. Since then, I have always written in a journal. I remember as a teenager writing down all the dramatic sagas and accompanying emotions, tears streaming down my face as I scribbled the words. Then, inevitably, I would throw the pages away, embarrassed by it all. I smile thinking about that now, and I wish I would have saved some of the high school soap/friend operas. I think I would have a better perspective now, and the stories would probably provide some much needed comic relief to my busy life.

Somehow, I kept all my writing so private. Not even my husband knew I liked to write until our third year of marriage. One day someone asked me, “What’s one of your life goals that you have never told anyone?” When I answered that I wanted to write and publish books, my husband looked at me confused. It was then that I realized I had never told him how much I liked to write.

I’ve asked myself, “When did it all start- this love of writing?”

Over time, it’s come down to the fact that I just love stories.

I spent my childhood in the country. We lived on about three acres. My older sister and I spent all day outdoors (rain, snow, or sunshine). We  had some pretty intense pretend play. Whether we were the royal orphaned runaways (doesn’t every girl pretend that at some point?), animal whisperers, or the greatest cowgirls in all the west, we made up many complicated storylines that usually involved some melodramatic love story.  There was a broken fence by our barn, and my sister and I would hop on that bouncy log, pretending it was our trusty horse Lightening or Buttercup. Somehow we never died from the tetanus-infested nails poking out of the logs. We also survived many tightroping trips across an irrigation canal.

My parents couldn’t give us much when I was young, but they gave us more than most by moving our family to that country house for five years. My sister and I are the youngest, and we learned to be creative since we were much too young to be wrapped up in the latest music, fashions, or boys. No, no, no (well maybe I had a few crushes). Instead, we looked forward to our nature club meetings (which I was vice president of by the way) that met in the attic of our rodent-filled barn. We invited the neighbor kids, a lose country term considering their parents had to drop them off. We did super exciting things, like go on nature walks, where we would encounter pretty much nothing (except for that disturbing time we found and watched a snake eat a mouse). We swung from willow branches, imagining hot lava in place of the grass, and played Robin Hood, shooting real arrows at our hay targets. My sister was the best person to play with. Together, we made up stories and characters that could keep us occupied for hours.

During my time at that country house, I wrote stories a lot. Then, somehow things began to change. I think it must have had something to do with the fact that we moved to desert mountains in New Mexico and left our happy farm fantasy. Or, it could be that my sister started to enter adolescence, and she started to be more involved in sports than make believe. I’m not sure, but it wasn’t until years later that I started to really write again.

So where did the stories start? I’m guessing my childhood of make believe had a lot to do with it. I’m sure the fact that we had no Nintendo also played a factor. I played. I imagined. And in the middle of doing all that, I fell in love with stories.




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