I’ve never been a physically active person. Given a choice between playing outdoors in the summer sunshine and curling up on the porch with a good book, the book always won out. I loved to escape into different worlds–some like mine, others quite different. But they all gave me a sense of adventure. Later on I entertained the notion of being an actress and I’d write scripts for myself. I’d perform them in front of the large mirror in the living room, using my dolls and stuffed animals as the other characters. Once in a while a younger brother or a friend would be coerced into taking part!
In high school, I enjoyed the classes that allowed me to create or perform things other people created. Band, orchestra, and choir were the highlights of my day, but I also enjoyed my other subjects. There was English (I loved the composition assignments. When else were we allowed to really voice our opinions?), social studies (I had creative teachers who had us research for mock debates and write travelogues for the locations we studied), science (loved writing those hypotheses – just like the “what if” questions I use to develop a plot!) and math (I’m still a sucker for a puzzle). So I guess I’m saying I’m one of those nerds who loved school.
I guess I was extremely fortunate in having so many teachers who encouraged creativity, but I believe this is what sparked my desire to write later on, after raising my children and retiring from full-time teaching. These were people who believed that it wasn’t enough to simply know the facts; we had to know how to use these facts to make decisions that would eventually make our own lives better. And now I look for facts to inspire my writing. Snippets of news articles become conflicts, visits to different locales help determine settings, and parts of conversations with friends and family turn into dialogue.
I owe a lot to my teachers. Maybe that’s why I became one, too. What better way to emulate people you admire than to follow in their footsteps? I only hope I was half as influential as they were.