One morning when I was four, I scribbled furiously on my paper, then took it to show Mom. “Is it writing?” I asked. “No, not yet,” she answered, meaning, I suppose, that I didn’t yet know how to write or was not yet ready to learn. But I went busily back to scribbling with my stubby pencil in just the same way, it seemed to me, grownup writers did, hopeful that the next time I showed her, the lead on the paper would have been transmuted into fine words.
I was in eighth grade when the dream to be an author was born. We had to write a story and mine was a scary one about being unjustly confined to a mental hospital. (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest may have stolen my idea.) I think the story was pretty good, in part because I had lots of realistic details from my mom's stories of working in the state hospital. My teacher, Mrs. Ruth Fite, thought it was pretty good too. Here's what she wrote on the top of my paper:
Be sure to give me a signed copy of your first book!
My dream was put on hold. As a busy mom, farmer's wife, and English teacher, I had no time to pursue it. My first novel was published 18 years after I wrote it!