TakeFiveGal – Why We Write – A Series Of Essays
When I was 4, I had an invisible friend. And she had an invisible brother and two invisible parents. They were my invisible family of friends – Fred, Lynn and their kids Rachel and Phillip. Their last name was Spider, and retrospectively, I’m pretty sure I was a creepy 2 year old kid who not only created four invisible talking friends, but who created invisible talking spider-shaped friends. The Spiders and I had a great friendship. We explored the mean streets of Lansdale. We rode horses together, and played Barbies on my front porch. They accompanied me to the doctor, and to the pool, and just about everywhere imaginable. I had a story for every minute of the day. My mom, slightly taken aback by my creation of arachnid related fairy-tales, asked the Spiders to move out and into the 4th Street Pool, where they would be more comfortable. The Spiders, and I, bought it, and they headed to the pool.
I spent the year of my life creating stories about the times I spent with the Spider family. I wondered what life was like for them at their new home, the 4th Street Pool, and I imagined they had great times without me. They had accepted me as their friend and I missed them. In their absence, I started reading, started imagining the characters of the books as my friends. Now at the ripe old age of 5, I was ready to put pen to paper, to create a world of characters who would stay my friends. I wrote a story about what would happen if the Wolf had defeated the Three Little Pigs; there was a character named Anna Marie who helped the wolf. It was four pages long and it was awesome. I wrote a variation on the fabulous book Stone Soup, featuring a character named Anna who, quite shockingly, stirred the Stone Soup. I had pages upon pages of elementary school, gigantic-ruled paper filled with stories about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.
By 8, I was a published author. If you took a journey to the Hatfield Elementary School library, there you’d find my fabulous books on princesses and pigs and, I believe, Nancy Drew. A writer was born and there was no turning back. I joined the drama club at 12, and threw my own lines into plays even when they didn’t work. To me, it was all about trying to find that moment where it could. When it worked, it made me happy. Throw a Southern accent on that character; it’ll make you sound funnier. Throw a laugh in after that horrible line; it’ll make her more believable as a court jester. And you know what, it did. By the time I graduated high school, I had almost 30 journals filled with story ideas. The main character was always Anna or Annamarie or Amrie, or something that didn’t stray far from my name, because in my stories, I was awesome. I was the person everyone wanted as their friend. My characters accepted me.
Don’t think it was just books that kept me writing. I would watch an episode of Full House and in my head, would write myself into a scene. When Stephanie loved Brett, I did, too. I was the second Tanner kid in most of my stories and Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky were my friends. I wrote a sequel to The Mighty Ducks before D2 was even on the landscape, where my character, named, surprisingly, Annamarie, was a new girl at school who did karaoke with the Ducks and was accepted on the team. It kept on that track for the longest time, until I became the self-proclaimed TV Addict that I am. I watch a ridiculous amount of TV each week, trying to understand the tone of each show, trying to see why a writer did something with his words that I might not have thought of doing. I print scripts and I study scripts and I meet as many writers as possible, with a goal to one day count myself as their equal.
I began telling people at a young age that I wanted to be a writer. A friend of my mother’s told me that no one would believe me if I simply wanted to be something. I had to say that I was already something, I had accomplished something. He asked me if I write. I explained that obviously I write. He said, “Then you don’t want to be a writer, you already are a writer.” And I haven’t looked back.
Why do I write? Because the Spiders were amazing friends, because I just do, and I can’t imagine life if I didn’t.