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Planting a Tree of Inspiration

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**** This blog post originally appeared on Author Viv Drewa's site, The Owl Lady Blog, on Dec. 28th, 2015**** 

 

"Planting a Tree of Inspiration"

I think I have to blame the whole “me-wanting-to-be-an-author” on my father.  It’s all his fault.  He corrupted me something awful.  Not that I don’t think he minds being blamed for something like that, in fact, I would presume that he much rather enjoys it.  I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was way before I was able to read.  Dad wouldn’t read stories to me, he told them to me.  It was oral tradition at its finest!  I soaked up every character he created, every line of dialog he spoke in his deep voice (sometimes slightly raised to portray a female), every plot twist and turn. 

It was when he told me his version of “The Three Little Bears” that I had a profound epiphany related to story-telling.  His version was about the Three Little Bears’ cousins who lived in a different section of the forest.  Now, all his stories were twisted and fractured fairy tales, amalgamations of stories with which I was already familiar (but can’t recall for the life of me now); however, there was something about this one – Licorice, a black fluffy bear getting into some scuffle with the Big Bad Wolf – that stirred something in my brain: He’s making up his own story that’s connected to one that’s already known.  You can do that? You can do that!  And that was when I kind of knew that I wanted to do that, too!

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When letters came together to form words that I could recognize, something very visceral happened to me.  It was like an awakening, or being born.  All the doors to different worlds seemed to open at once, and the rest fell into place – first the reading, then the writing; I was discovering new avenues and outlets for all my young and innocent creativity. So, as soon as I could, I wrote.  Constantly.  One of my earliest aspirations of “what do you want to be when you grow up” was to walk into a bookstore, look at a shelf, point and say, “See that? I wrote that!”

As I got older writing became somewhat of a necessity for me. I attribute my writing to being the one thing that saved my life in my early teenage years. See, I was always the outcast. The outsider. The goth kid. The weirdo. The girl who would rather wear black nail polish and spend hours reading a book filled with poems about witches (a gift from my father, of course) than listen to the newest New Kids on the Block song with the girls in my class. I was bullied. Ostracized. Different. Writing became my outlet, and my coping mechanism. Writing got all the junk out of my head and brought me to crazy worlds of vampires and witches and all things dark and gloomy, all things that I felt in my heart and soul. It was an escape for me, and a way that I could be the weirdo me without judgment or criticism. Many a night I pondered suicide, but writing about it was enough for me to deal with those thoughts and feelings. In essence, writing was a means to pull myself from my own mind and depression. 

Teenage years were hard, and adult-ing isn’t much easier. Life sometimes takes over and spins you into an uncontrollable whirlwind of events… for me it was marriage, house, surgery, the weddings of practically my entire circle of friends, nephew born, etc. etc. - life knocking at my door with a child of my own. My writing habits and desires took a backseat for many years.   When my daughter turned a year old, I did some serious soul searching.  I had gotten to a point in my life where things were going very well.  I was happy in my roles of teacher, wife, and mother, but there was one hat that I still wanted to wear, so I sat my husband down and told him how I felt -  how there was this nagging void within me that so desperately needed to be fulfilled.  It was a no-brainer for him; he was supportive and encouraged me to go after my lifelong dream.  He coached me to stop making excuses and to stop letting me get in the way of me.  The rest is history.  In the summer of 2010, I finally wrote the first draft of The Coal Elf, and the Coal Elf Chronicles kind of snowballed from there.

 

The influence from my father has manifested, grown, and come to fruition because now I can walk into a book store and point to my books on a shelf. He passed his torch of creativity on to me in the most profound way. He and I have a very special psychic bond. Just the other day, he called me up and said he had an idea that he thought might work in the third Coal Elf book. I nearly died laughing because I had just been thinking the very same thing! 

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