It was 1963 and I was living in Panama, or at least that is how I remember the moment. I suspect it happened long before that, but I can't remember anything but coming home and finding my dog Tippy gone and visiting him at some secondhand furniture store owner's shop and the Easter egg-colored chicks my sister and I got as Easter gifts or the time the cop from a town a couple miles away brought me home to my parents carrying my little suitcase. I had run away.
Mom had told me it was all right. I don't think she thought I'd actually do it, but that was the first of many surprises she got over the years, like telling me if I didn't like the way things were done to peak up. I did and often and often got smacked for speaking up.
The point is, I remember reading Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and traveling to the center of the earth and to distant places with H. G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and being so excited I wanted to do the same thing -- not travel to Mars, although that is on my bucket list, but to write. I wanted to spin stories people would read and talk about. I wanted to speak up and keep speaking up even when I might get smacked -- or worse. And I did speak up -- and write -- and I often get smacked.
It was that feeling of having discovered that it was possible to put words on a page and change someone's life or thoughts or give them an adventure they'd never forget. I obviously didn't forget mine since I'm still talking -- and writing -- about it almost 50 years later. I haven't lost the feeling of excitement, the love of adventure, and the endless possibilities that I find in books and in writing. I'm not a really successful author because few people know about me, but I keep writing. That is the one constant in my life -- writing.
I went through the usual changes, as most children do as they grow, evolve, and experience more. I wanted to be an archaeologist, a lawyer, and a Supreme Court justice, but the one thing that remains constant is the desire to be a writer. It was archaeologist/writer, lawyer/writer, and Supreme Court justice/writer, although the writer should come first. Although I never went to college to be any of the other things, I have continued to write and, as you can see on this blog and in the bookstore, I am a writer.
It was that first brush with words and dreams and adventure that sealed my fate. Whatever else I have done and will do in the future, the 8-year-old me wanted to be the one telling the stories and exciting new generations of people to write stories of their own. I don't worry about the competition because other writers give me something to do when I'm relaxing -- read what they've written.