(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Friday, June 13, 2008

a hunk a hunk of burning love. yeah.

ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a part of the reading experience. as a child, I was a voracious reader. In first and second grade, I was the irritating child with her hand up volunteering to display my reading prowess. In third grade, nirvana presented itself in the form of the SRA program. My California elementary school class introduced a self-paced reading class. For the entire year, I could read my way through as many books as possible. I ended the year ready for junior high. well almost. I completed nearly 3 years worth of reading education.

I had a very troubled childhood and my escape was books. I think I might have been one of the few children punished for too much reading! "Kimberlee Paige, get your nose out of that book and go outside and PLAY!" Being an only child of parents who moved a lot (among other things) didn't foster a plethora of playmates. I had a set of junior classics that I made short order of. But returned to again and again. Chowed my way through Laura Ingalls Wilder. Early on, I tended to get the fever for authors and themes. Prairie life. Austen. Dickens. Lonely children struggling to survive. Anne Frank. Holocaust books. By junior high school, I was sneaking books home that wouldn't have been approved. Kafka. Tolstoy. Solzhenitsyn. Bukowski. Eldridge Cleaver. Hell, I can't even remember half of the authors. I typically (and to this day) read several books at a time, my appetite was voracious and seemingly unappeasible.

I hit freshman year having exhausted many school libraries. I used my one precious elective to enroll in the creative writing class. In the first week of class, we read a short story where one of the main characters was a writer. A young writer. Whose routine was to go to lunch every day to a diner in San Francisco, and have a hamburger and coffee. Coffee from those chunky beige china mugs that are so common and dinerly. Upon consuming said hamburger, young author sat drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, observing the opera unfold and writing about it. Over 30 years later and that story's details remain with me, clear as day.

That was it. The flame was lit. The picture painted by that author, about the young writer ... was so vivid ... so appealing. I could envision everything in the scene. I could taste that burger. I could smell the smoke in my hair. I was transported. I knew then and there I wanted to do what that author had done. What countless authors I had been having a not-so-secret, lifelong affair with had done. I wanted a shitload of readers, clamoring for moi.

One of our first short story assignments was doled out. My story was about a concert I had attended at the Circle Star Theater. I had been allowed to attend with my step-aunt. (all of my stepfather's family will forever retain the step-title. end of story.) It was a big ass deal for me to be able to go to that concert.

I'll never forget that grade of "A". My first creative writing assignment. First story written. Big old A. Lots of superlatives in the margins. Someone complimenting MY voice! An adult someone. Ms. Padgett, to be exact! There were a series of those "A's" to follow. I felt the fire, folks.

Throughout my life, I have continued to write in bouts. There were years I couldn't go a day without writing. My voice has been silent the last 8 or 10 years. I gave up writing for climbing ladders. Until this blogging thing. I'm kind of raspy. Haven't really hit a groove yet. But I have flashes of my old inspiration. Some of the lines and paragraphs have pleased me. When I write, it is usually just a big free form flow. It is like the stories are in there, just waiting to elbow their way to the front of the line and speak out. I've never understood authors who plot out a story. I mean, like write from an outline.

I think some of the novelists have done that. Having found a formula. I'm speaking of the Jackie Collins form of writing. Can be an entertaining read. Having never read any autobiographical insights into Ms. Collins, I guess I am really talking out of my ass. Maybe she starts with a few of her characters first, I don't know.

I'm not far enough along to know how it should work. I mean, the kind of writing that isn't telling life stories. Other than short stories.

Some girls dreamed of being a wife. Some a ballerina. Some a doctor or lawyer. For me, from the age of 13 or so, I wanted to be a writer. Where did that girl go? How did she get sidetracked and waylaid? well, that my friends is a whole other story. or ten. ones that I am sure will be told.

How about you? has your flame of burning love burned long and bright? or is it a flicker?


Diane said...

Like you I was a reader as a child. It was my escape from an existence of not abuse but neglect. Books were always there for me, didn't judge me, didn't ignore me. I wanted to be a writer as well but I've finally come to the realization that it's just not my forte. I'm good at writing demand letters but that's about it. I think I would have been good at my other dream, that of being a lawyer but am a bit long of tooth to start on that career. ;-)

I think you have a wonderful writing style and am really enjoying reading your blog. It is no stretch of the imagination to see you spinning out yarns of immense interest and entertainment for general consumption while sipping a beverage in your french garden. I look forward to reading them.....oh and I expect a signed copy. :P

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to be a writer of some description, but not particularly fiction.

For a number of years in my teens I thought that I wanted to be a journalist because that would involve writing about FACTS and the TRUTH (well most of the time if you work on a good paper!) and the REAL WORLD, rather than elaborate fictional fantasies.

However, due to a huge amount of negative family shit and school bullying in my childhood, all my confidence got sapped out of me and eventually I left school at 16 like a beaten up rag doll, with no desire left within me.

I went and trained to become a secretary and spent the majority of the past 24 years typing for a living, instead of writing for a living (with a few minor forays into freelance journalism).

Now I've hit 40 I've started my weight loss / life change blog and I'm loving it as I get to write not only things that are FACTS and TRUE again, but all about me, me, me!

And a few people are actually liking what I write - even more amazing!

Thank heavens for blogging!

Anonymous said...

I am not a writer though I have a fantasy to be one. I don't have dreams of great literary prose, but to be a funny travel writer...oh yes.

I don't yearn to write everyday and I am not naturally talented at it. It takes WORK for me, an outline and a willing soul(or word processing program) to check my spelling errors.

I am the science gal sitting in the corner with incredible ability to work out spacial problems who can also talk to just about anyone.

Often when I finish a really good book, I close the cover and say to myself, "what am I going to do now?"

The answer invariably is another question, "how can I create a feeling in my writing."

Randal Graves said...

Does poetry count as writing? I've only written - not counting high school crap - one piece of fiction and I never figured 60k words would be such a simultaneous joy and terror.

Like you, I love to read and have too many books going on at once, which I think ties into the 'easily sidetracked' problem: some days I'm gung-ho about creating, other days I'm not. Some days I want to read about X, the next day, Y or Z.

I'm also with you on the whole outline. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but I just wrote the damn thing. I figure since it wasn't a complex mystery with 72 characters and 1400 events that needed to be plotted out at precise intervals, who cares. ;-)

But please, write. It may never be your 'job' or your source of income, but, unlike those things, it'll be who you are.

Utah Savage said...

Did I have a child I didn't know about? You could be a younger me. I've been writing the same book for thirty hears. If still love reading and don't mind doing it siting at your computer, It called "Maggy" It's a memoir.

I think part of my reclusiveness as a child was that I was so different from other kids and I had secrets I had to keep. And reading has always been an escape and passion so consuming I could do nothing else. I either write or read. I can't seem to do both at the same time.

Je ne regrette rien said...

Diane-I wondered where you'd been! from your lips to a publisher's ears!

GTAF-welcome! lots of us seem to have some misbegotten years, but thankfully we seem to be getting on track. looking forward to checking out your blog.

fot-speaking of wondering about someone, I've been thinking about you and going to your blog daily, and with hope... you write wonderfully & I think it must be that talent you mention of being able to talk to anyone. writing is talking, (especially the kind you want to do, travel writing) so you'll be a natural. I wish I could find a way to ask "what's wrong and can I help" without being nosy...but just know I'm thinking of you.

RG-ahhh, but there's the rub. I so want it to be my livelihood, my pursuit, my forté. do you suppose that would kill the joy for me? hmmm.

U.S.-the more I read of you, the more I think not the mother route but sister or reincarnate! ha - but unfortunately instead of that it is the sad fact that what we hoped would end generations ago is a gift that keeps on giving. and that would be abuse of the weaker. but then we get strong. and are forces to be reckoned with.

Our Juicy Life said...

I wasn't a reader as a child, I was a gymnast...24/7..that's what I loved, that was my passion for 8 years. I read books, but they have to be fun easy read books or else I get bored. I'm not a writer either and my blog has shown me that, but I enjoy trying.

When I was a girl I wanted to be a business woman, seriously, I told my mom that I wanted to work in an office and carry a briefcase and make money. YIKES! I did that and it wasn't what I had hoped, didn't fill me up. Becoming a potter was when the flame was lit, took me until I was in my late 30's, but it was something I could do, things I could make that people loved and bought. See, now I'm not sure what to write....if I was a writer it would just flow out of me. Oh well.

Barb McMahon said...

Blogging's the best, isn't it? Both the writing and the reading of.

I've just discovered yours, and added it to my favourites. Now I need to read the archives...

D.K. Raed said...

I'm more of a talker than a writer. I can yak your ear off in a back & forth genuine conversation, but when I try to write it down, I get lost in the details. But I do appreciate good writing. Yes indeed. I was also one of those students jumped up a few grades, reading at adult level very early. And libraries were my home away from home.

As far as doing what I thought I wanted to do ... well I was always interested in all things anthropological ... at least ever since I reached the age of reason (14 for me). I guess since I do study people, I am still in the game.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm enjoying reading yours.

La Belette Rouge said...

Yikes!! I just wrote you a long comment and my Foxfire crashed and lost my comment!

Here I go again. Like you, reading was my way of surviving childhood and adolescence. And, I feel like I have learned more from reading than I have ever learned in a writing class.

Since adolescence I knew I was a writer. Whether I am writing or not I know I am a writer. It is a part of my identity independent of the act of writing.

There were a few years when I didn't write anything but a check. However, through Julia Camereon's Artist Way and Blogging I have the kind of writing discipline I never thought I could have.

Oh,and I never plot a story. I write without an ending. And, I had a writing teacher who told me that the worst stories are those who were written by an author who knew how it was going to end. Go with the flow, JNRR!!

I would love to see that first short story of your's that got an "A." Please post it and keep writing! And, to answer your perhaps rhetorical question, "where did that girl who wanted to be a writer go?" I see her right here in this blog and this post.:-)

Je ne regrette rien said...

LBR-would that I still had that story. but, alas I am not of parents who would save any triviality such as that. nor did I. I'm going to check out the Artist's Way. Stephen King wrote a great book to aspiring writer's ... It is on its way to France!

Hill Country Hippie said...

The Artist's Way is a life-changer! It's a must-read for anyone who has artist's or writer's block, who wants to unleash creativity they never knew they had, or even for anyone who wants to lose weight! After conducting her seminars for years and years, Cameron started to notice a pattern. People who unlocked their creativity began to slim down. She has since written another book called "Write Yourself Right-Sized". But first, read The Artist's Way!

Je ne regrette rien said...

Juicy-I swore I would do anything but go to an office and sit behind a desk and then life happened and I sat behind a desk for over 20 years. I knew I should have NEVER taken a typing class! then those damn computers got popular and ... HA! you are blessed to have found a passion.

Barb-thanks for finding me!

DKR-look forward to reading more of you~

HCH-thanks for the endorsement. 2 positive reviews have definitely piqued my curiosity.