This is what Rhobin Courtright wants to know this month.
It was my mother, grandmother, and grandmother’s sister who lived with us, Aunt Janka. By the time I started school, I could read and write, and mentally multiply two-digit numbers. School was a BORE. I spent the time inside my head, so reports said things like “He has the potential to do well, but daydreams during class.”
They were right. I still have the potential to do well, and still daydream.
I made up stories. Many of them had the theme of terrible disasters happening to my stepfather. Then, I implemented some of these ideas, and made the poor man’s life hell. This wasn’t exactly writing, because the stories stayed secret.
Being shy, I was an observer. You can learn a lot about people from tones of voice, little pauses, the way they use their eyes, hands and shoulders. I often surprised people because I could act like a mind-reader. This still wasn’t writing, but an apprenticeship for it.
At eleven years of age, I found that running could take me out of my constant misery. You get going until you warm up. After a while things hurt, and it’s an effort to keep going. When you burst through this pain barrier, you enter a zone of no thought, no emotion, no time… heaven.
I learned to allow my mind to solve problems during these stretches of nirvana. Homework projects, and later university assignments, then research design, sequencing building tasks — whatever problem I faced could be solved while meditating on swift feet. This included thousands of stories I told myself, but never thought to share. Who’d be interested in my nonsense?
One day, I did share a few. To my surprise, people did find them interesting, and lo! I am a writer!
You will find very varied, interesting answers from among my fellow participants: