A Reader or A Writer?
by Robynn Gabel
I remember my first favorite book was about a boy and his donkey. I was so excited I could finally read, and somehow I related to that boy and his pet. For a little while, as I read, I was taken out of the pain of my world and transported somewhere else. So reading became my escape, my drug, and my hideaway in a hard childhood.
Later on I found myself becoming a critic of sorts. I hated endings that left you hanging. I would invent a better ending, (usually a happy one). I hated unrequited love stories, I would re-write it in my head, and they would come out a lot better in my opinion.
The defining moment came in Star Wars. To this day I’m not happy that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It went against the grain of how I wanted things to turn out. From that point on, I knew I wanted to make the shift from reader to writer. I couldn’t watch a couple in a restaurant without creating an entire story out of their body language. My imagination was always working overtime. Stories came at all times, from just a snatch of conversation or a moment.
But there were bills to pay, children to raise, and a business to attend to. So for years on scraps of paper I would jot down ideas, lines, and chapters. Then I bought my first lap top after attending a Christian Writer’s Guild Conference, so I could do the online, two year course I had signed up for. I would finally write.
The journey is different for all of us. Some know sooner than others. For some it is a driving passion, for other’s it just a simmer. So when do we make the break from becoming ‘readers’ to ‘writer’s’? What drives us? When do we think, in our arrogance, or naiveté, that we can do better?
Maybe it’s the draw to fame and fortune. After all how hard can it be? Just words on paper, sounds so easy. For other’s it’s an all-consuming fire, a need to tell a story. And what makes a ‘good’ story? Is it just constructed of proper grammar and punctuation? What is a ‘voice’?
I wandered the valleys and peaks in my journey to get to a finished book. Obsessed about how it had to be perfect, and then realizing it was all about plot, not construction. It boils down to that one little story that somewhere connects with someone, at whatever age group you are writing for.
What was it about the donkey and the boy that grabbed me? Their friendship? Or that it mirrored my desire to own a horse? The fact they traveled, and I loved travel? I don’t know. But my avid reading helped lay the foundation for the writer I am now. So are you a Reader or Writer? I believe you cannot have one without the other.