A Childhood Dream: How I Started Writing

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu (604 BC – 531 BC), The Way of Lao Tzu

OK, I went with a cheesy quote to start off my introductory posts. So sue me. I know it’s a little lame, but hey, at least it’s true, and it certainly applies here.

Every journey has to begin somewhere, right? Mine as a creative writer started in my childhood, though the exact moment is difficult to pinpoint. I guess it depends on how one would define the real beginning of the journey: if it was the time I first started reading, it would be before my preschool days; if it was when I read the first book that inspired me to create stories of my own, it would be when I was about nine years old; if it was the first time I actually took a shot at writing a short story, it was sometime in my elementary school years. All I know for sure is that the moment I decided I wanted to be a writer, I knew I was making a choice that I was going to stick to for the rest of my life. So far, so good.

According to my parents, I started reading at a time when I was still sleeping in a crib. Most children my age were put to bed with toys; I was put to bed with books. Of course, it didn’t take my parents long to discover that I was mostly using them as a staircase to escape the crib, but that’s not the point. What’s important is that I was exposed to literature at a very early age, and for that, I will always be grateful to my mom and dad. Many of my childhood memories are filled with the stories I used to read in the countless books I collected over the years. My parents had always told me that anything I wanted from the toy store had to be earned first… except for books, which they would always buy for me the moment I asked. Because of this, there is a huge selection of books on which I can look back with fondness. But there is one in particular that holds a special place in my heart as the story that first sparked my desire to become a writer myself: Roald Dahl‘s magnificent and highly-acclaimed children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

When I was nine years old, my mother came to me with a book recommendation. “I read this when I was a kid”, she told me as she handed me a paperback copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “I think you’ll love it too.” So I read it, and sure enough, I soon found that – like many of the things my mom says – she was right. I fell in love with the author’s wonderfully imaginative world, filled with intriguing characters and wild adventures that kept me hooked until the very last page (he wasn’t known as the world’s most scrumdiddlyumptious storyteller for nothing). When I reached the end and finally managed to put the book down, I realized that in a way, I had been left in the same state as after finishing one of my mother’s home-cooked meals: satisfied, yet disappointed that it was over. I wanted more.

Roald Dahl Phizz-Whizzing Collection
(CC Image by weesen via Flickr)

So the following Christmas, I received a whole collection of children’s literature by Roald Dahl, from short books like Fantastic Mr. Fox to longer novels like Matilda. To my immense delight, every story I read pulled me deeper into the world of fantasy and imagination in which I’d been longing to live for years, and still I wanted to explore even further. Soon, I was losing myself in other fantasy stories, such as J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter books (which, I’m proud to say, are from my generation) and Eoin Colfer‘s Artemis Fowl series.

And then I realized: maybe I didn’t always have to rely so heavily on someone else’s stories to take me to that world. Maybe I could get there myself, by telling my own stories. Yes, I thought, that’s exactly what I’m going to do: I’m going to make up stories and put them in books so I can share them with the whole world! I’m going to be a writer.

With my heart set on that goal, I started writing my first stories as narrative assignments during composition class in school. Of course, to say I wrote stories may be a bit of an overstatement, since I never actually finished most of them due to lack of time. Clearly I still had a lot to learn about brevity in writing… That’s probably why I soon took to writing stories on the computer instead; now I had all the time in the world to be as creative as I wanted. Trouble was… I couldn’t really finish the novels I started there, either. That was possibly my first lesson in the concept of planning before writing… but more on that subject another time. The point is, my early preteen years were when I first started seriously considering creative writing as a possible career path, and for that, they may well have been the most defining years of my entire life.

Notebook and PenSo now what? Clearly, my journey hasn’t ended yet. But I’ll spare you the obvious “it’s only beginning” line, not just because it’s terribly cliché, but because it isn’t even true. I’ve been writing fiction for years (what, exactly, is a subject for next week), long before the blogosphere even emerged as an array of outlets for creativity and individuality, and much less as a potential source of income. No, my journey is not just beginning here, nor do I expect it to end here; this blog is actually one of those more common but lesser known “intermediate stages”, somewhat like the train stations between Point A and Point B that are never mentioned unless something happened at them that’s important to the traveller’s story as a whole. Hopefully this will be an important point in my story, but only time will tell. Of at least one thing I’m certain: with countless hours already invested in my craft, I won’t be giving up on my dream of becoming a successful writer any time soon.

So that’s my story, or at least the first part. But enough about me for now. So what about you? Are you an aspiring writer too, or any other type of artist? How did your journey begin?

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