I've loved books, in particular fiction, for a long time. I first got into fantasy books. In 5th grade I was placed in advanced ELA, but was described by one of the teachers as "lazy." The truth was that I hated to do work. I wanted to lounge and read, daydream, or go hiking during my free time, not math problems and book reports. I mean, sometimes I like doing math, but not every night for three hours. But anyway, I was in advanced ELA and I was "lazy," but then two things happened.
The two advanced ELA teachers made the class fun.
And I discovered Harry Potter.
We did cool things in that class, like huddling in a dark classroom to simulate how immigrants to America in the 1800s may have felt huddled in the holds of ships. I still remember loving the unit on Lewis and Clark. Their journey across the land excited me; a twin love, along with books, is adventure.
And then Harry Potter, oh man, Harry Potter. What a fantastic adventure that series is. I stayed up until sunrise; birds were singing while I was nose-in-book, turning pages while Harry struggled through the Triwizard Tournament. When it came time to write a book report I just wrote 5 paragraphs double-spaced on how good Harry Potter was. Got an A on every one. Writing with love behind it never feels like tedious work to me.
I kept up my love of literature, deciding that I wanted to become a writer one day while meditating on Tolkien and The Hobbit. English class was the one I took most seriously in high school; it was the only class where I cared about my grades, my AP literature testing score (5). The Diary of a Young Girl; Harrison Burgeron; The Things They Carried; A Tale of Two Cities; The Great Gatsby; To Kill a Mockingbird; Cry, the Beloved Country; Shakespeare; Langston Hughes; the Romantics; the Transcendentalists - I ate them up. OK, so sometimes I wouldn't read the whole book, and skim or do the Wikipedia page instead (a trend I kept up throughout college). But still, I absorbed a lot of info, the outlines of my awareness of literature.
I tried to write a novel in high school. I sat in my room, ignoring everything else, every evening for two months straight. Didn't finish it, never looked back.
I always knew that I was going to major in English, or at least I wanted to. Still, it took me 2 years of "exploring" at Ohio State before I declared it. I was taught by several brilliant professors. I discovered the modernists, tackling Ulysses, The Magic Mountain, and In Search of Lost Time in a particularly energizing class. Around this time I also started taking long walks, listening to iTunes U courses about literary theory, book structure, and postmodernism. I learned about Medieval fiction, women's fiction, and the literature bridging the Beat generation and Jimi Hendrix playing the anthem at Woodstock. And I discovered Virginia Woolf.
Woolf is my favorite artist. To The Lighthouse (discovered 2014, published 1927) and The Waves (discovered 2016, published 1931) are my two favorite books. Woolf shared my bipolar, and I can see parts of myself in her characters, especially Bernard from The Waves. Woolf's writing is beautiful; sometimes, frequently, I'll come across a passage that pauses me, shatters me. I could wax about Woolf for a long time, so I'll save it for another blog post.
I didn't read as much after graduation, instead turning more toward writing. I mean, I still read a lot, but not with the same intensity. I wrote a meh novel while I lived in Denver from 2016-2017. I moved back to Cleveland in 2017, and met Webeater and The Lotus in our education program. Murph and I had been working on various writing projects for years. Both Webeater and The Lotus shared a love of reading and writing. After a few years, we've got a podcast and sometimes Beanbag or Mint show up and it's really great fun. The dream carries on.
I'm working on short stories at the moment. I'll do another blog post about them sometime.