I was about 4 ½ years young when I learned how to read.
My first televisions shows were Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Some of my favorite books were: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, Chrysanthemum and Owen by Kevin Henkes, The Berenstain Bears books by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer. I liked lining up in my classrooms to take weekly trips down the school library with my peers. Watching Mrs. Naylor (our librarian) impress her stamp on the book’s card delighted me.
I liked learning how to write in cursive and phonics was the easiest thing going. Sometimes, while waiting for my sister to get out of dance class, I’d work weeks ahead in my spelling book to procrastinate math homework.
When I got a little older, I read all about Karen in the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister series and got annoyed at how the first chapter was the same in every book. Around that time, (I was 9 or so), there was talk about this new series about wizards and a magic school and some boy named Harry Potter. Mrs. Kieklak, my 4th-grade teacher read our class the Sorcerer’s Stone that year and I became forevermore enchanted.
In November of 2001, I turned 11. Three days before my birthday, the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came to theatres so my friends and I went to see it. And believe it or not, seeing that movie was one of the most defining points in the history of my journey as a writer. What I felt in that theatre was excitement beyond anything I could ever properly explain. It’s something that few people understand: the writer within.
What I experienced for the first time in that theatre was the joy of watching characters I had created in my mind appear on screen. This was the first time I knew exactly what was going to happen in the storyline. I knew what was coming up in each scene but still remained excited about how it would play out. I remember telling my little sister to cover her eyes right before Quirrell took off his turban to reveal Voldemort. And it made me so happy to know! I like knowing stuff.
So let me get to my point here. I have always loved reading. I still do. And up until 5th grade, I was content with reading what other people wrote. And over the years, I of course, became a huge Harry Potter fan. (My friends and I bonded over the series and started writing fan-fiction about the Marauders). But that was just the beginning. I started to realize that I wanted to have that power, that control over choosing how things would play out.
What’s funny is that I didn’t know back then how far I would come with my writing. My mom always said I was good at what I did, but I never thought I’d want to make a career out of it one day. It’s funny how moms are always right. So I’m going to keep writing and telling my characters what to do. Maybe one day I’ll see them on the big screen.
Or better yet, I’ll inspire an 11-year old to start writing as well.