There was a moment when I was young. I read a National Geographic article about Giraffes. I liked how the words sounded, how the sentences flowed. So I copied it, word for word, in my own handwriting. I wrote out the article completely, until my hand hurt and cramped, until I’d finished. Then, I had pages of my own handwritten work. I’m still not entirely sure why I felt the need to copy it. I had in my head goals and plans to write out all the articles, for some unknown reason. Perhaps I simply enjoyed the act of writing yet hadn’t put much thought into writing my own ideas, so copying others filled that void. Maybe I saw the collection of articles within the magazine and wanted my own collection, even if the content was not my own.
But I think, now looking back, I simply wanted to write sentences that flowed, that worked well, that made sense. My own writing was obviously below the level of the professional article-writer but I wanted my writing to sound like that, to look like that, to look professional. Perhaps that was when I started wanting to be a writer, without even realizing it. I didn’t end up copying any other articles. It didn’t seem…useful anymore. I’d done it once and…that was enough, I guess.
There were other moments. When I played with action figures, I preferred playing alone. I told stories to myself, epic in length. There were no simple battles, every conflict had a history, a backstory, every character a past. Every conflict led to conclusions, usually more conflict. In using GI Joe’s, I could see how the characters could move, what they might do, how their bodies might act, it helped me visualize the story. In fact, I used GI Joes to visualize stories up into High School, though I let nobody know it, playing with them in my room, alone. A little strange, I admit.
I daydreamed constantly. It helped when I had to do mundane chores like chopping and stacking wood, or when I had to run for long distances for Wrestling or Lacrosse. I could distract myself easily, get lost in a story, an idea, a world I’d concocted. There are times, this day dreaming leads me to trouble. I sometimes do it when I should be focused on interacting with others, on conversations, on listening. I am easily distractable, often thinking about my imaginary universes which makes me forget other things, or lose track of the conversation, etc.
Now I have a real job, a real career, but I still craft worlds, build characters, tell stories. I still day dream, and visualize action sequences, battles and conflict, (though without the GI Joes, lost long ago). It’s not something I can help, really.
That’s why I call myself a writer.