Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A brief history of how I came to be a writer

I came at writing slowly.

As a kid I spent most of my free time playing or watching TV. I liked to read but not in an obsessive way. And I didn’t write unless I had to for school.

My senior year of high school I had an English teacher who really knew how to bring books to life through discussion, and I discovered that I liked thinking deeply about books.

In college I started keeping a journal, but only wrote in it sporadically about girls I liked but was too shy to ask out, or about what life is all about, or about how I needed to get off my butt and do something, anything.

Sophomore year I decided to major in English because I had to major in something and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life besides go camping and backpacking.

My last two years of college I wrote lots of old-style rhyming poetry, modeling the poets I was reading, and had two poems published in a tiny student literary journal.

When I moved to Alaska a few years later and was living in a cabin outside of town, I wrote some really bad short stories about a guy living in a cabin where not much of anything is happening. Yeah, writing what you know doesn’t always work out.

Fast forward a few years: I’m teaching English in an alternative school and I discover Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature. I start bringing home books by the arm-load, searching for a few my reluctant and struggling readers will connect with, and fall in love with the genres.

Now that I’ve got my students reading, I’m looking for ways to turn my students on to writing so we start writing scenes using characters from the novels we are reading.

My students like doing the assignments, but I love doing the assignments.

I’m not sure I would’ve started writing MG and YA if it weren’t for my students. Now, I’m hooked.

How did you come to be a writer? Did you love writing from an early age or did you discover it in a more roundabout way?


  1. What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing. One of things I love about teaching is how much I learn from my students.

  2. Paul, I didn't realize you were a teacher! I taught 4-7 grade English and social studies in a variety of places (though now I'm doing the writing thing full time).

    Have you ever read TISHA? It's an Alaskan teacher book. I'm a sucker for teacher books.

  3. I discovered MG and YA the same way. I first wrote adult fiction and then became a teacher surrounded by kidlit, which I took home and devoured.

    I enjoyed reading and writing at a young age.

    Ha ha @ cabin stories. Real life doesn't always have appropriate tension and enough plot to write about.

  4. I started very early, though I didn't get serious about it until high school. I grew up telling stories to my brothers and sisters and just started writing them down one day.

  5. I'd always thought about writing, but because I never felt I was "good enough", I didn't go for it. Over the last year I've learned to let go off those negative thought lines and write. I'm so glad I did!

  6. I became a writer when my 4th grade teacher called my parents to tell them about the story I wrote and had me read it out loud to the entire class and their parents on parents' night. I didn't realize me, as in little ol' me, could be a writer until a great teacher said I could. I was hooked. :)

  7. I've always been a reader, but I don't think I caught the writing bug until I was about 14, when one of my school teachers really encouraged creative writing (and added, 'I'm a fan of crime stories, so if there's death and murder and stuff, I'll like it more' which gave me some flex to be extra creative :P).


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!