I ask myself that question often. I’m leaving tonight for the West Coast summer conference for the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, so I guess I’m committed at this point. But why I decided at this point in my life and not during my high school English class is the real question.
I remember my high school English teacher, Edgar Cook…a real cute guy, enthusiastic about literature, writing…and fun. As a senior though, I was more interested in spending my time in the Chemistry lab…bugging him to let me out of class to hang out with the other science geeks. He wrote in my year book “Have a great and wonderful time in college–in college you can go to the lab anytime! So I did…spending the next 32 years of my life in the sciences.
So now, why am I writing? The short answer is, I read…voraciously! Well, as much as I can anyway. As a younger, more rebellious soul, I would stay up all night in bed, with whatever book had caught my attention. Now, I try to get my 8 hours of sleep so I tend not to pull all nighters…but when I retire, watch out!
The last time I had a reading spurt was Valentine’s Day, about 4 years ago. Valentine’s Day holds different feelings for me than most folks. My mother always used to send me the most beautiful, fun valentines, usually with a little cash stuck in the envelope. That memory I’ve tried to pass along to my own son, finding a gift for him at Valentine’s Day. My husband and I went to B&N to get him a Nook (you know, to encourage reading over all the electronic stuff that kids have nowadays) as that year’s gift to him. After the salesgirl demonstrated all the Nook could offer, my husband surprised both of us by asking her to bundle up 3 of them. Woo hoo! Reading without having to go to the library? Just download a book or sample and have ready made entertainment? I didn’t come up for weeks….and I started to write my first novel soon after. And what did I start to write? Well, science fiction, of course. Those 32 years in the sciences had to be for something…right?
What does reading have to do with writing? Well, reading has given me so much enjoyment and entertainment, that I want to give back to that collective, to be a part of the writing world…so perhaps someone else might enjoy my story. That’s why.
So, I’m sure at the SCBWI conference this weekend, I’m going to get advice from all the successful writers about how important reading is to becoming a successful writer. All I can say to that is…check!