Have you ever wondered what inspired the stories authors write? Sometimes, while reading through book reviews on Goodreads, I’ll find myself falling into a rabbit hole of author bios. As an aspiring author, I have an insatiable curiosity about how others writers became writers. What moments in their lives nourished their creativity? Looking back on my own life, I believe I can pinpoint my moment. I think I first developed the unconscious inkling that I wanted to become a writer while daydreaming as a kid, and I have reading to thank for that.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a bookworm. I have always had this obsessive need to carry a book with me wherever I go. On the off chance I find a moment to myself, I can put my nose back in my book. However, I couldn’t always hide behind my books growing up. I did have responsibilities to attend to, like chores. My mom often drafted chores lists for my brothers and me, so this did take up a rather regular part of my routine. (Am I counting down the days until my son’s old enough to start doing some chores? Maybe.)
As a ’90s kid, I regrettably did not have Audible, Hoopla, or other audiobook platform to occupy my thoughts as I did chores. I couldn’t yet fathom the idea of being able to carry thousands of books in my pocket to call up at any time. This would seem as fantastical to me back then as Hermione’s bottomless beaded bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
So here’s where my daydreaming came into play. As I dusted, swept, and mopped, I began telling myself stories reminiscent of the ones I liked reading. As a lover of fantasy fiction, my stories usually involved royal families, magic spells, and exploring castles.
Our family cat, Patches, often wandered around smugly while I cleaned. (She was good at making me feel like a peasant). Before I knew it, a talking cat friend became a regular feature in the stories I told myself. Little did I know, this would become the basis for the novel I would start working on years later. I definitely channel my inner Shizuku from Miyazaki’s Whisper of the Heart with how much I love a good talking cat character.
(If you, like me, have a penchant for magical talking cats, check out these books right meow.)
As time passed, my storytelling began seeping into other aspects of my life. If I felt car sick from reading on long drives (as the passenger, not the driver!), I stared out the window and told myself stories. To help myself fall asleep at night, I began telling myself stories. In the morning, I could determine how long it took me to fall asleep based on how involved my story had grown. Reading had made me a storyteller.
Over the years, reading continued to nurture the writer within me. In college, a favorite class of mine was Teaching Young Adult Literature. One of our assignments involved writing creative pieces related to the YA books we read. For one of my pieces, I chose to rewrite the ending to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the author’s ending, but it left me feeling a little sad. In a flurry to capture how I envisioned the story ending, the words began spilling out of me. The scene I wished for sharpened into focus in my mind, and to my surprise, I captured it on paper exactly as I imagined.
With bated breath, I submitted my piece. The encouraging feedback I received from my professor gave me pause. For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe I really can become a writer. With that in mind, I settled into working on my first novel.
As I started getting to know myself as a writer, I picked up a new lens as a reader. I began to see the beauty in the written word more vividly. Figurative language started blossoming off the pages I read. I took notice of how a writer’s craft could form a captivating picture in my mind. Reading encouraged me to try my hand at playing with language. Writing my own stories wasn’t enough anymore. Now, I hope to create something beautiful as I do so.
Reading and daydreaming awakened the creative writer in me. I hope the books you read will impact you in meaningful ways too. What inspires your writing? If you’d like to read more about how reading can affect you as a writer, check out these posts, and happy writing!