I’ve been trying to pinpoint when I really started to become fascinated with the idea that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been impressed with all of these biographers who are able to recall what they did during particular years or certain times in their lives.
For me, there are certain bits and pieces that are clear – just individual scenes, mental film clips, so to speak. On that note, I admired David Carr’s admission in his memoir that he interviewed many of the people in his life because he couldn’t remember many of the events of his life clearly. Most of that had to do with all of the crack he was smoking at that point in his life. I never had a similar problem, but then again, I was drawn to writing fiction, not memoir. I didn’t think there was going to be a test on personal history halfway through my life. But, I think now that I want to see where I have been on this writing journey to get an idea of where I need to go next.
Dr. Seuss is the first author I remember getting into. By the end of my early childhood, I not only had well over a dozen of his books on my bookshelves, but also several audio recordings of the books on vinyl. A particular memory was hanging out in my basement, laying on a couch there, turning off the lights and listening to the records on my own courtesy of a 70’s turntable. For me it was a more intimate experience than hearing it in the light with others. But, I still liked reading them – loved the pictures, so expressive and inventive for such simple art.
However, if you tried to pin me down regarding which adult book first captured my imagination and made me think about what it would be like to create a book, that goes back to somewhere around when I was 10 years old. It was around that time that my parents gave me a book called Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. At this point, I’m not sure how I found out about that book, but that once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop.
Within the first three chapters the world ended and then it went off to the races from there. I loved the language from Adams, the wit, the random brilliance about the human condition filtered through the experience of aliens. I understood 30 percent of the jokes after the first read, 60 percent of the jokes after the first 10 readings, and maybe 98 percent of the jokes 25-plus years after the fact. It was the first book I couldn’t put down, the first book I had to read over and over. I remember bringing my creased paperback cover Hitchhiker’s copy with me during a family camping trip with my parents and aunts and uncles one year; it was the thing that kept me sane when I wanted to return to civilization but we had to stay in tents and play UNO until sundown (not that I don’t dig the game). It was the first book where I really fell in love with the language, the voice of Adams, where I fell in love with the absurdity of human existence. It was the first book that made me think, “My God, I would love to write something like this.”
So far, I haven’t gotten anywhere near Adams’ level of writing. I’ve also acquired several other idols of writing that I’ve looked up to (more on that later). But for now, I’ve tried to produce material that I think would be up to his level, even though it might not be something that he would undertake.
I’ve also struggled with the idea of actually sitting down and writing. I was surprised to learn just this past month how Adams actually struggled with putting something down on paper and the computer screen. It made me realize that I was not alone and that my idol struggled with the same issues that I did. It is something that motivates me even today as I want to continue my writing.
Learning about this was a massive motivating force for me. It made me realize that I was not alone in procrastinating and wasting time, even though time is much more precious than the ordinary person thinks. My mission now is to write down as much as I can in the time that I have. Wish me luck, everyone – you might even see some of it on this blog.