Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 days of truth: it all started with that book

Because I can.

I've jumped on board the 30 Days of Truth meme in an effort to talk a bit more about my self, not just G. Some of these will be really difficult to discuss, and a lot of them will be real downers, so I've chosen one that's more positive for my first foray.

You can find the complete 30 Days list in the links at the top of the blog. I'll link each day to the corresponding blog entry.

Here goes.

Day 17: A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

It all started with a book, really. Though it was more like four books stuck together in one set. They sat on the top shelf of the living room in the double-wide trailer where I grew up, above the small fish tank. There weren't many books on that shelf, mostly other odds and ends like an old cigarette container or a metal sailboat.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. Tolkien is a series that has been sensationalize by the movies. But I first met those stories as a little girl who would stare up at them where they were too high to grab. They belonged to my father, who is someone I've never seen read much, and he wouldn't let me read them. Now, this was quite devastating to a girl who would read anything and everything, especially at the age of ten or eleven. I would read the backs of cereal boxes and shampoo bottles with relish. My dad said I was too young, and so I waited.

Finally, when I was about eleven, he gave me the copies, an old 1960s set in gold, and let me read them. I read them through, and read them again. And read them again. I read them so much that some of the covers fell off. My parents took them away and wouldn't let me read them for a while, but they eventually gave them back and I read them again. I was seriously addicted. I hadn't read anything like it.

Up until the point, I hadn't written much of anything except a few stories for school. The thought of writing had seriously not crossed my mind. But I was so entangled with The Lord of the Rings that when they ended, I didn't want them to end. So I created my own continuation of the story. Yes, the first thing I wrote was LotR fanfiction, though I didn't know what fanfiction was back in the very early 90s. I liked my story so much that a few chapters in I decided to cut out the LotR characters and make it my own. Thus my first novel, The Great Awakening, was born. It really was awful, but it was my first book, and I love it dearly for that. I still have the first few chapters written out on wide-ruled paper in my large childish hand.

There were other careers I wanted as a kid - astronaut, elementary school teacher, marine biologist - but writer overcame all of them. Because of these four books, I majored in English and got a master's degree in creative writing. These books shaped the rest of my life. Without them, I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't have the same likes and dislikes, the same life goals, the same wants. I wouldn't be a blogger, I wouldn't have met most of the people I know now, I wouldn't have my current job.

That set of The Lord of the Rings now sits on my own self. We have a whole collection of Tolkien books, including many sets of LotR alone. One day I hope to entice my son to read them. "Not yet, Grayson," I'll tell him when he's little. "Get a little bit older and they're all yours."

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