I’ve spent the past month traveling all over the United States. I’ve got about three more weeks before I go back home for a much-deserved rest.
During these travels, I’ve been asked the same question several times: what made you want to become a writer?
Every time I hear that question, I have to stop and think about how to answer. It wasn’t so much a want as something that just happened. The first time I remember writing a story was in the second grade. I had been assigned to write a short story.
It’s been a very long time since second grade, but from what I remember, the story was about a boy who found a dinosaur bone in his backyard (I had plans to become an archaeologist at that time. What young boy didn’t?) Before I could finish the story, I ran out of time on the assignment and had to rush the ending. I remember feeling unsatisfied.
A few years after that, my mother gave me a 3ft x 3ft Lego base plate. It had a river running through the center with two fields on both sides. I built a wall around the entire area, then proceeded to create rooms throughout the entire structure.
I built a mess hall, hangar bar, armory, office, and much more. I created back stories for every Lego person inside. Entire storylines were told in my own imagination, playing in that backroom of my childhood home. Looking back, it should have been obvious that my passion in life would be to tell stories.
It took several more years and a half-dozen half-finished stories before I began to take writing seriously. And then it took two years of college before I bit the bullet and chose it as what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
And you know what? I haven’t looked back.
I love stories. All stories. Happy stories, sad stories, stories that end before they should and stories that seem to drag on too long. I don’t much care where they come from. I’ll sit down and watch a cartoon with a good storyline with just as much enjoyment as I would a production of Hamlet. It’s not the medium that matters, but the message behind it.
And the best part is that I live in the modern era. We’ve been around for thousands of years, telling stories and living new ones. There’s no end to the tales that may be discovered, if only we look around us.
Maybe storytellers are born naturally. Maybe they’re created. I was raised in a home full of stories; sitting around at Thanksgiving and Christmas and laughing at the stories my family told is still a favorite pastime of mine.
From the time I was very young, I remember one particular type of story that always stood out: the ones where the heroes kept on going despite all odds. No matter the opposition they met, the heroes would always fight — and they’d always win.
Maybe it’s unrealistic, but I believe that to be the core truth of the world. If you’re fighting for the right reasons, then eventually you will win. It doesn’t matter how much opposition you face.
Writers will face opposition, incredible amounts of it. “Don’t you want a real job?” is a question you become familiar with.
Dylan Moran once wrote, “People will kill you over time, and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like ‘Be realistic.'” That’s the opposition. That’s what storytellers must overcome.
Luckily for most storytellers, realism is malleable.
What made you want to tell stories? What prompted you to sit down and write?