(painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve read many fellow authors’ declarations of being avid readers when they were children. That they would sneak a book under their covers and get in another few precious moments of reading exciting books before their parents would remind them to go to sleep.
Others would talk about remembering reading at a very early age and loving it throughout their childhood into their adult years. This dedication and love of reading books led them to write books themselves. And this seems to make a whole lot of sense. You read a lot, you get ideas, and you naturally write with these inspirational stories having primed the creative pump in your imaginative brain.
But this wasn’t my experience.
At times I feel both sad and amazed that my writing journey is not the usual, logical path of my fellow writers. I’m an anomaly of sorts. I truly believe it.
I grew up hating to read. As early as I can remember, I had little interest in books, other than to look at the colorful pictures and at times, listen to my dad or a teacher read a story to me and my fellow students.
Reading had been a struggle for me, a lot of hard work. By mid grade school age, it was discovered I had reading comprehension problems. When my dad wasn’t away on a case (he was a lawyer and a judge in the Air Force), he’d spend an hour or so a night sitting with me on the couch, listening to me read aloud one of the classics in large, vivid books with plenty of pictures, but with age-appropriate, tough words.
I remember agonizing through reading each sentence. It was so laborious–a tremendous mental work akin to the hard, physical work of pushing a heavy rock up a steep hill. But Dad kept encouraging me, guiding me along, patiently working with me for about three years (around fourth to sixth grade).
I went into junior high school still struggling to a certain extent, with little interest in reading, let alone learning. This was my academic path throughout high school, as well.
But something had changed. I did read a few assigned books in my English literature class in eleventh grade, and when I a sophomore, I fell in love with the North & South TV mini-series and ended up reading the first two books in the series. Also, when I was eighteen and nineteen, I read the whole eight-volume series of the Kent Family Chronicles (both series written by John Jakes).
I think, perhaps, watching TV and movies helped me create my stories in lieu of reading. I’ve always been a visual learner.
As for gaining an interest in learning, it wasn’t until I went to business college a couple of years after graduating high school, that I was ready to learn and wanted to learn.
But here’s the unbelievable part of my journey.
Throughout all of my struggles with reading, I wrote all the time with little effort, from second grade all the way through my teens and early twenties before putting it aside when I married and had children.
As you know, if you read any of my older blog posts, I returned to writing in 2014, and it felt so good to be back where I believe I belonged.
How could a child, a young girl, a woman, write stories with plots, decent sentence structures, spelling, some stories over a hundred pages in length, but rarely ever pick up a book until her late teens, early twenties?
It’s a tiny miracle to me.
This tiny miracle tells me this is my talent, God’s gift to me.
I finally realized this only about two years ago. It hit me like a refreshing, cool breeze on a warm spring day. And I’m so glad it did. Since my early twenties, I’ve been reading and continue to read many, many books.