I’m a very avid reader, and always have been. Ever since an early age, I was raiding my school and local libraries for new material to read. I think I was 7 or 8 when I really discovered the pleasures of reading, with books such as “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K LeGuin, and “The Hobbit” by J R R Tolkien.
These books opened my eyes to wondrous worlds and the endless possibilities of the written word. Up until that point I’d been reading books like “The Secret Garden”, “The Faraway Tree”, “The Secret Seven” series. But suddenly with the discovery of writers like Tolkien, and LeGuin, I was suddenly transported to worlds far beyond my imaginings.
Before I was 11, I had started to investigate science fiction, with authors like H G Well, David Brin, Arthur C Clarke, Frederick Pohl, Issac Asimov, and Alan Dean Foster. The whole of time and space opened up to me, and I started getting fascinated in the sciences too, particularly computers.
But I wasn’t stopping there. Oh no. Over the years I got into reading the books of Tom Holt. Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, and discovered that humor can add whole new dimensions to a book. Characters seemed to jump off the page and make you love them, despite their faults, and and issues. And around this time, I was able to go back and read many of the books that I couldn’t have appreciated back in school. “1984”, by George Orwell, and it’s visions of a political, and tyrannical dystopia, became a stark warning of what could happen if the right to vote were ever removed. Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” read like a comedy at first, but there was a depth to the characters that had a ring of truth, despite the inherent insanity of their situation.
When I got married, my wife had already written the basic outlines, and first drafts for two books, and had ideas for more. I started reading her work, and the next thing I knew, I was suddenly helping to edit, and shape the books. Is it any wonder, that I became fascinated with writing for myself?
I still love reading, but now I read everything from mythology to history, fantasy to science, books on management styles to blog entries on social media and advertizing. I’d like to think I’ve developed an understanding of how stories flow, what motivates people, and how no matter how much I outline a story, my characters are going to have their own ideas. I’ve wrestled with characters that did the completely unexpected, and thrown half my carefully crafted outline into the trash, and let the characters lead me where I need to go.
Sometimes I’ve hit dead-ends, sometimes I’ve realized that I need to completely re-write something in deference to what I discovered about the characters. Worse yet, I’ve sometimes lost the work, and had to come back to it, and try to recreate it from fragmented notes. But the one thing I’ve not done, is give up. Why? Because I think there is a story-teller in all of us. The written word might have almost replaced the verbal traditions in many cultures, but it has allowed many more of us to enter the story-telling arena.