Readers Write…

(Well, Some of Us Do)

Officially, I learned to read when I was five, by looking on as a babysitter read me a “Dick, Jane and Sally” book or some such intellectual tome. (Actually, it started long before that when I figured out the words “OFF” and “ON” by looking at light switches. I would nearly drive Mom crazy turning a light off and on so I could read both sides of the switch.) Mom had spent time reading to me, too — possibly to keep me away from the light switches. I knew there was a connection between the words I heard and the ones printed on the page, and that day with the babysitter, it just came together.

When it was time for Kindergarten, Mom told my teacher that I could read. Skeptical, Mrs. Frederick tested me by handing me an unfamiliar book and asking me to read it to a few children seated conveniently nearby. I did. So Mrs. Frederick recommended that, instead of the Kindergarten-level “Weekly Reader,” Mom might want to subscribe to the second-grade edition for me.

I am very thankful for these two women who, even decades ago (this was after World War II but before Nintendo), were forward-thinking enough to offer me a challenge instead of trying to keep me in step with my peers. I have always loved to read. Kept me out of trouble, too, in those early-childhood days when I would wake up at dawn. Instead of starting a messy “craft” project, destroying the kitchen in an effort to make breakfast, or going out to climb trees, I would sit contentedly in my little rocking chair with a book. Or my Weekly Reader.

After we moved to Texas I discovered our church’s library. During first through third grades I read one kids’ mystery after another. After working my way through the Bobbsey Twins (gag — but they seemed almost logical at the time) and the Hardy Boys, I started in on Nancy Drew.

At school, every spare minute found me hunched over a book from the shelves in the back of our classroom. Fourth grade met at a bigger school, one with its own separate library. I merrily checked out book after book to take home, reading to my heart’s content (often, I admit, instead of doing my chores).

Sometime during the spring of my fourth grade year, a dreadful thought occurred to me: at the rate I was going, one day I would run out of books. I decided then that I must write some books, too. I figured that if everyone who loves to read would write a few books, then maybe we would not run out after all. So I sat down to write a story. In my naivete I thought writing was just like reading, where you just start and then see where the story goes. I decided on a “ghost story.” But after a rousing sentence or two, I realized that I had no clue where I was going or what would happen, and no idea how to make a story. It petered out after a couple of paragraphs.

Since then, I have had dreams of being a chemist, a botanist, an artist and a secretary. I went through two or three changes of major in college; and am in a happy marriage during which I enjoyed a “temporary” secretarial career lasting a total of sixteen years, interrupted by a nine-year break while our boys were little.

Finally, Firstborn was ready to go off to college and Secondborn to start high school. I decided to go back to college myself, and finally finish an undergraduate degree. So I jumped in, part time, and graduated with a BA in English in May of 2009.

About that time an opportunity dropped into my lap: freelancing for a local-interest magazine group. I got to write professionally with them for about three years. After that, I started writing fiction, and have been crafting a humorous novella series. It’s still in the works, but on “pause” while I write a biographical novel. It’s the life story of a Liberian pastor who serves as the field director for a charity that meets the basic needs of vulnerable Liberian children.

It was quite the long way around, but here I am.

And I still read every chance I get.

Sometimes, I admit, instead of doing my chores.

4 Responses to Readers Write…

  1. Jenny Forgey says:

    WOW. Your story could be my story. We are like mirror images. I was just marveling today and at how different I was from my adventurous, three-year-old son, who isn’t happy unless he’s play-acting a story that involves everyone in the room or taking apart every mechanical thing he can get his hands on. I was definitely NOT like that: I was the quintessential bookworm, living wholly inside my head.

    And now, umpteen years later, I am trying to launch a writing career. So, in short, I’m with you, sister, and will pray for you as we continue to journey on. Keep me posted (pun most definitely intended)!


  2. Kelly C says:

    I’ve been catching up on my blog reading and realized I had never read your story. Hope all is going well with 2012.


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