Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where Writing Began

Up until nineteen months ago, I emailed my dad stories. Stories of my day. Stories about my kids. Stories involving my dog. Stories centered on my family. These were not made-up stories. They were the stories of my real every day. And my dad emailed his stories back. We lived in different cities, but our stories kept us close.

But nineteen months ago, cancer weakened my dad, and he couldn't go to his office anymore, the home to his only computer. So our email story-sharing died. Three months later my sweet dad died too. I miss my dad, every day, and so did my stories.

One month after my dad's death, I began blogging, not this blog, but a different one. I shared my stories, the personal ones that I used to email my dad, and posted them to that blog. And once again my stories had a place to live. Each time I published a post, it was like emailing my dad because I knew each entry would be the kind of story he'd want to hear.

Out of emails to my dad and that first blog, my writing life arose. Unfortunately, I can't tell my dad that. But I did tell him how much our emails meant to me. One day as I sat by his bedside I said simply, "Dad, I really miss our daily emails." He turned tired eyes to mine and in a frail voice replied, "Me too." We both understood the power of written words.

Without knowing it, my dad gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life. He let my stories live. And that's where my writing began.

How did your writing journey begin? I would be honored if you'd share it here.


  1. Your dad sounds really great. What a wonderful thing that you shared all those emails.

    My journey started when I was about seven and I wrote a story called THE KETCHUP CARPET. You can guess what happens in the climax. ;)
    My mother saved it (she saves lots of stuff). I'll try to find it and scan it to put on my blog. I used to illustrate too (naturally--I was seven!).

  2. What a tribute to your relationship with your father.

    My writing came out of lots of different choices that I and others made. When I was in elementary school, I used to make up games with a story line, and my friends liked to play them with me. Later on, I had a best friend who would draw sci-fi worlds and I would make up the stories for them. I had a few teachers (and later, professors) who went out of their way to encourage me. But most of all, writing (letters, journal entries, poetry, essays, stories) has helped me sort out so many different challenges and learning experiences. For instance, when my mom died, I took a creative writing class.

  3. That is really beautiful. Truly.

    My own writing beginnings are a much smaller story. I remember reading Where the Wild Things Are when I was maybe three or four and thinking "Wow. Maurice Sendak. He's a person! He WROTE this." It was the epiphany that books come from everyday people, they don't just appear. And I decided right then that that was what I wanted to do with my life.

    Luckily, I discovered later that I actually enjoy writing! It would've been awful if I'd discovered I had no taste for it. :P

  4. Dear Barbara,
    Your Dad sounds like a great man, and this is a beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    I started telling you the story of how my writing journey started and found it getting longer and longer, so I've decided to share it on a post on my blog. I hope you come and read it. :)

  5. Babara,

    I have been a lover of literature for as long as I can remember. I used to write horribly bad poetry and would submit it only to get rejected. Yeah, it was bad. One semester in undergrad I took a writing course with Rene Saldana. He gave me the courage to write about my experiences. I wrote on and off for my students usually. I wrote one novel just for my alternative schooled students called Ghetto Code.

    One day I wrote about my life in another grad creative writing course and finally felt validated about my writing. Writing made me feel okay with myself and how I grew up.

    Google not letting me sign in.


  6. Ahhhh. Thank you for sharing. Some of you have known for so long that you were writers! Wow. I've always been a reader, and a teacher of lit for years, but writing is a whole new world for me.

  7. I realized I wanted to be an author a few years ago when I was unemployed. I was living in Los Angeles trying to break into television without success. I read about Brent Hartinger's road to publication on his blog, and it inspired me to look into YA. I began reading in my ample spare time, and an idea for a script morphed into an idea for a book. When I began temping, I would finish my work quickly and write in the afternoon. I've had some starts and stops over the years, but I've always come back to novel writing.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. My sister died from cancer 4 years ago and although I didn't start writing then, it has definitely helped get me through that difficult experience.

    I started writing after I read one of the Harry Potter books about 4 years after they came out and got hooked.

  9. Phil, glad you came by and shared your story. Writing always lures back those who love it.

    Natalie, I'm sorry about your sister. Make each moment count is what I think of in situations like those (and with my dad). But HP! Yes, that inspires writing!


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