It started as something. An itch. A curiosity. A gnawing in the back of your mind, accompanied by a little voice that said, “let me out”. Or in my case…boredom. Every writer remembers the first time they wrote. Their first story. The first time they finished writing a book. They remember where it all began.
I was young – old enough to know books existed, young enough that I couldn’t write yet. I sat in our little apartment with its pink carpeting in the living room, box of raisins to my left, stacks of construction paper to my right, the television two feet from my face. I can still remember the feel of the construction paper – how I never saw construction paper like that again. It was thin, but strong, not easily folded like that other paper we’d had. It had a smooth surface, sharp edges. Perfect. I’d picked the front and back cover pieces. Purple. The inside would be white. And so, with the TV on some show I’d lost interest in, my raisins almost gone, the house quiet, I began.
I didn’t know what I was doing. At first, I was just drawing pictures, placing them in order, and stapling them to the construction paper. Then, a wordless story took form. A house painted orange breathed life into the pages. A purple alien visiting human relatives wove a story between disjointed and almost unrelatable drawings.
For me, that’s how it started. Raisins. My favorite construction paper. An alien and an orange house.
I’ve written for more than half of my life. Picture books turned into poems. Poems expanded into short stories. Short stories morphed into novels. And now I stand at the start of a new milestone. The beginning of a series.