I remember my mother reading to me long before I started attending school. She loved books and she loved watching children use their imaginations. Our kitchen table and chairs and a well-placed blanket became a fort. My bed was a Broadway stage. A grove of pine trees became The Secret Garden and our swingset became the location where Rapunzel let down her hair or Snow White lived with the seven dwarfs or the house that was transported to Oz. And when my younger brother joined in, it was a castle fending off invaders or a fort fighting off the Indians.
But it wasn't until I moved to Mississippi in 1967 that I turned my love for reading into a lifelong love of writing.
My father was an FBI Agent who was sent to Mississippi at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. It was a time marred by assassinations - John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi... And the Ku Klux Klan was terrorizing minorities throughout the Deep South.
We arrived there from New Jersey, and I, with my New Jersey accent, immediately discovered I wasn't wanted there. My first teacher told everyone in class that anyone who played with me would get a "whuppin" and I quickly discovered I had little in common with my classmates, anyway. It would be decades later that I'd discover many of the parents of children I knew were under investigation for ties to the KKK.
The principal of our school took note of my lonely existence and encouraged me to write a story. The first one was perhaps four pages long. Under her encouragement and later, with the encouragement of several school teachers, I began to write longer pieces until, in 1971, I completed my first manuscript.
For more than forty years now, writing has been an integral part of my life. For a time, I turned to writing how-to computer books. I left Mississippi in 1977 for Washington, DC. My first computer book was published in 1984, followed quickly by three more.
William Tapply brought me light-years ahead of where I'd otherwise be, by mentoring me through the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Course. A year later, Robert Doherty brought me even further by telling me what I needed to know through the Writer's Digest Criticism Service.
I can't imagine not writing. It has opened worlds I would never have otherwise known, places I would never have otherwise visited.
Where has writing taken you?