Where do writers get started? I'm not sure that's always clear, but one thing is clear: At least most writers begin as readers and work from there. Today I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to read.
It started early for me. Even before I could speak, I could sit in a parent's lap to have stories read to me. My dad still remembers how upset I became when he started reading "The Tawny, Scrawny Lion" (which he had memorized word for word by then) from a different Little Golden Book. I knew which story went with which cover -- even if he didn't.
In grade school, when the teachers didn't know what to do with me (an event which occurred with great frequency), they sent me to the classroom bookshelves and then to the school library to find something to read. I worked my way through dozens of "chapter books" by the end of fourth grade.
Junior high gave me a bigger library and new books I hadn't seen yet. In seventh grade I read my way through several huge historicals by Thomas B. Costain (THE BLACK ROSE and THE SILVER CHALICE are two of my favorites) and dozens of other adult-level novels. I finished out that year with my first read-through of GONE WITH THE WIND.
By high school I was having fun with Shakespeare while most of my peers wondered why he wrote in such funny language. Let's face it: I was a nerd, a book nerd par excellence.
Still I can't help but wonder what if I hadn't had so much good material to read and so many people encouraging me to read it? I don't like to ponder that thought.
Instead I've made a point of making books available and (I hope) interesting to my children and now, to their children. One of my sons is following me in pursuit of becoming a writer (Sorry, Paul!) and who knows which among my grandchildren may yet catch the muse?
I only hope they learn to love reading as much as I always have.