Reading as Writers” offered the opportunity to answer seven questions about my writing roots … lots of digging for memories!  Here’s the result …

What literary character most influenced you when you were young, and why?

age 4

At age 12 I bought the collection, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare published by Nelson Doubleday, Inc., with hard-earned babysitting money (hated taking care of little kids … even for pay).  My parents moved us to the city that year as I started Grade 9 – too young, too awkward, too country and too shy to fit in.  I was introduced to The Bard and all his magical, captivating, comedic, romantic and tragic characters.  If I was to choose one that I identified with as the young me, it would probably be the sad, pathetically solitary (bad guy) Shylock.  Fifty years later, the two-volume set still sits on the bookshelf in my office.

Can you recall the premise of your earliest work?

Other than decades of business writing and a lifetime of journaling, I’m a late starter.  My earliest work was done jointly with my sister in 2007, a 39-page outline/manuscript for a series of children’s books about the adventures of “WoDash and The Bellidragg’n”.  Cid lives in Dublin, GA, so we created the story almost entirely through MSN chat.  I really should dust it off and do something with it.

Did you receive a piece of advice that made ‘all the difference’ to you as a writer?

In a backwards kind of way one instructor did motivate me to keep writing.  The first creative writing course I took was in 2006, and in her feedback with the final assignment she wrote that she simply couldn’t understand why all my stories were “so over the top”.   Shockers!  I never told her my pieces weren’t fiction but from what I thought had been a life well-lived. As my sister says when reflecting on our growing up years, “You can go with the flow or join us in riding the rapids.”

Anyway, I headed for the cottage with my constant companions, dog, pen and journal to mull over the instructor’s critique, ultimately deciding there damn well was an imaginative writer wide awake in me that sorely needed cultivating … and a different instructor.

Reading is… 

gently rocking branches and filtered sunlight. The eldest of three girls, the surest way to get out of chores and responsibility for my siblings, was to sprawl near the top of my favourite maple tree with a book.  I’ve been reading voraciously since I first discovered phonetics!

Recite a favourite passage from favourite book. Why is it special?

From Creators on Creating, Awakening and Cultivating the Imaginative Mind, from the section “The Dedication to Mastery” a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I have very joyful dreams which I cannot bring to paper, much less to any approach to practice, and I blame myself not at all for my reveries, but that they have not yet got possession of my house and barn.”  I’ve been working on a novel for about a year now, a joy-filled, energizing process.  I know that I can only ‘bring it to paper’ through practice with as many forms and genres of writing as possible (poetry, short stories, etc.) before it will get ‘possession of my house and barn’!  And, I’m totally OK with that.

A choice (or seven):

Postcard or Email?  Email, although I can’t deny the thrill of receiving that rare handwritten postcard or letter.

Morning or Night?  Morning … especially at the cottage waiting for the sun to rise above the tree filled horizon of the long arm.  What a show!

Romance or Mystery?  Neither.

Gallant or Laurence?  Yeats!

Pasta or Curry?  Pasta, pasta and pasta!

Pen or Keyboard?  Both, pen for the journal and keyboard for everything else.

Cohen or Dylan (Bob or Thomas)?  (Bob) Dylan, political activist, counterculture icon and songwriter extraordinaire!  His inspirational lyrics are pure poetry.  Ditto for the other Cohen too, Leonard!

What is your ideal writing environment? 

A gypsy at heart, the car with digital recorder is the most creatively productive environment for me. The only drawback is listening to my own whiney voice when transcribing.

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