How the Love for Reading Sparked a Love for Writing
[We might pursue things for a lifetime without entirely realizing it. There’s a moral to this story. I hope you will read through to the end. (Affiliate links to what I buy and use.)]
“The Little Train that Could” is a story I cherished in my very early years. Night after night, Mom would patiently read the storybook to me, cover-to-cover. I studied the colorful full-page illustrations of zoo animals riding the long turquoise blue train cars up the mountain. I imagined curiously about their cartoon animal heads poking out of the train car windows. Mom read the story aloud dozens of times over the months until I memorized the tale word-for-word.
No longer could she skate through the book, skipping pages or pretending she’d read the whole story because she really just wanted to go to bed after her very long work day.
One night, I pretended to read the book to her.
Reading Was Something I Really Wanted To Do.
So much of my early “reading” was really watching and listening and remembering.
I badly wanted to read.
Once I entered grade school, it was apparent that reading on my own would come slowly for me. My eyes danced on the page and skipped lines. My brain had trouble remembering what it saw. But, I loved books. And like the Little Train, I kept struggling to reach the mountain top in pursuit of becoming a strong reader.
Halfway through the first grade, our family moved to a new city with “better” schools. They were better, alright; a grade and a half better. That’s how far behind I was in my reading compared with my new classmates. What if I couldn’t get help to overcome this mountain of learning that stood in my way to progress with my friends to the next grade level?
My love for reading took root.
Mrs. Edgerly Knew Something
For some reason, Mrs. Edgerly, my third-grade teacher, agreed to let me work on a personal project.
It would be about horses–or the ice age that was coming.
I chose horses.
Mrs. Edgerly was wise. She knew how much I would benefit from copying so many words. She knew I’d learn vocabulary and spelling, grammar and punctuation, and paragraph formatting. It did not matter to her that my 100-page report wasn’t my work at all, but an enormous copy-work project I’d given myself. Mrs. Edgerly knew I was learning to read–and write.
You Know Those Standardized Tests That Are Administered in Schools?
My reading comprehension and retention scores never looked good on paper. You know those standardized tests that are administered in schools? We didn’t get along. But, I kept climbing—and never stopped loving books. I spent hours in our small public library after school, waiting for the late bus to take me home to the top of the hill. The books I’d check out were the biggest, fattest books–the kind the smart kids read. I looked at them over and over and over again. Strong readers read books with small print; the smaller the print, the better the reader.
My library books would have really small print.
I Think I Can
I remember walking through the campus breezeway as a high school freshman, thinking I want to be a writer. It had to be a “God idea” because it didn’t make sense, given my history and all. Yet, two years later, I joined the honors English class, wherein the teacher nominated me to join the high school’s magazine student “staff”. God alone knows why. My buddy, Tim, was nominated too. We were excited for the chance to write like journalists.
But, something happened.
A Shift. A Landslide.
Neither of us joined the magazine team. Instead, we found ourselves in what we knew as the “bonehead English” class. Our addition to the class was supposed to bring up the grades of students already in the class. It didn’t work. The kids in the class didn’t want to be there. We couldn’t blame them. We didn’t want to be there either.
The Landslide Brings You Down
For me, that was an unfortunate twist of fate that sent me sliding down the proverbial mountain I worked so hard to climb. Is The Little Train going to race backward down the mountain to end up in a tangled heap?
All that work for what?
When You’re At the Bottom You Can Only Go Up
My writing skills and my attitude really needed a lift after falling off the ledge. Or were we shoved? Anyway, they were both weak and bruised and in need of remediation by the time I returned to the academic world as a college student.
I nursed my poor writing skills back to good health and accepted the opportunity to join the university’s magazine staff. It was then I realized what had been taken away before was put back into my life.
Today, I Am a Writer.
I’m a writer because I write, not because I’ve published books or because my name is known. I am a writer because I write. What about you? Are you a painter because you paint? Or a photographer because you love capturing life in pixels?
To What Have You Said “Never!” ?
When I hear myself say what if I write a book? it still surprises me. I never wanted to write books. I just wanted to read them. Now here I am, pursuing the idea (intensely) studying the process of writing, producing, and publishing one myself.
What have you said “never” to? I can count on my fingers the things I said I’d never do and so far I have done all those things.
What if you do that thing? (Remember, No Regrets!)