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Friday, August 26, 2011

Going Forward while Looking Back

Two posts in one week! This is a definite sign of getting back in the groove.

So two days ago marked myself and my twin brother Adam's twentieth birthday. I've officially been alive for two decades (time flies when you're having fun) and well, I was just thinking about how much things have changed for me--how I write would be the least of it.

I have no actual proof of this, but I'm convinced that after I kicked my brother Adam out of the womb (it was crowded in there and he took up too much room), I was born at 12:07 AM on August 24, 1991 with a notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other. My earliest memories consist of reading and/or being read to. The Story of Ferdinand and Stellaluna were immense favorites. When I got older (try seven or eight) my brothers and I were introduced to Mary Pope Osboune's The Magic Tree House series, and now I'm pretty firmly convinced that the titular magic tree house was, in fact, a smaller TARDIS. I mean, come on! It's bigger on the inside. It travels throughout time and space. It appears and reappears when you least expect it. That's pretty convincing proof, if you ask me. But I digress.

I was maybe six or seven when I actually tried my hand at writing an story of my own. I can't even call it my own, because it was just Cinderella, with my own words and pictures (illustrated with stick figures by yours truly, of course). I think I also did Rapunzel, but my memories are a little fuzzy on that point. I do remember writing and illustrating another book for my cousin Pablo's birthday, one about a girl who ate so much sticky foods that her hands stuck to objects around the house, but who knows what happened to that one.

A couple years went by, mostly consisting of me wandering around and talking to myself in the school yard and at home. I still read a lot, but I didn't do any original works. Then the The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out. Inspired by the books (and a good deal by the movie) I tried my hand at writing my own version of Tolkien's world, by inserting an original character, Aragorn's long-lost sister, Annie, then later named Rowan. Eventually Rowan became Ayden, who is pretty firmly established in my head nowadays. I still have the pink composition notebook that I wrote the whole thing down in. I'll take it out every now and again, just to remind myself of how far I've come, writing-wise...and how little I've changed in other ways. It also serves as a nice way of humbling myself when I get too cocky.

My LOTR phase must've lasted as long as each movie came out, and then it was series of TV shows that I watched my brothers...mostly Japanese cartoons. Though I never had much use for Dragon Ball Z. My brothers loved it, but I didn't care for it very much. I tried to mesh my two favorite TV shows at the time into one story and I had great plans for it...but that didn't pan out either. Really, now that I look back on it, most of my stories back then were glorified fan-fiction.

And all this time, while I wrote my silly little stories, I read and read and read and read. Ella Enchanted, Loch, Roller Skates, Gypsy Rizka, The Lost Years of Merlin, His Majesty's Elephant, The Iron Ring, The Princess Dairies, Redwall, The Jungle Book, Howl's Moving Castle, The Girl with the Silver Eyes...there were a lot of books. Lots of them. And you can find every one of those at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, if you don't believe I actually read them all.

The Seventh-Born Chronicles took possession of me for a whole year and it's still percolating at the back of my head. Halcyon House is my more urgent and in a lot of ways, my much more fun project. My writing has changed a great deal. I like to think it's stronger and more defined, and my characterization and description has also become sharper. My reading tastes have matured too, a great deal. (Though I'll still read Brian Jacques when I feel like I've gotten too far away from what I originally loved.) I've become a fan of Shannon Hale's lush, glimmering prose and even Stephenie Meyer's hypnotic, heart-stirring, intense turn of phrase. I love Maureen Johnson's quirky, witty writing and Deb Caletti's intelligent, flawed characters. I've just started reading some Neil Gaiman and to me, his works read like a Beethoven sympathy--intense and epic at turns and then soft, melancholy and gentle at others. The Graveyard Book is one book I recommend for children and adults to enjoy equally. 

Twenty years' worth of reading, writing and imagining new worlds and characters. I think it's a worthy legacy for least until I get on the New York Time's Bestseller List. And maybe win the Newberry Award. We'll just have to see what happens.

Over & Out,


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I've created a monster... a writing monster. And to refresh your memory. You refused to write in 4th grade... until Ms. Murillo made you stay in until you finished. Then you handed in a jewel that made her & me tear up because it was just poetic, childish love expressed in the most beautiful misspelled scrawly writing. Thank you for not giving up on your craft.