I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was in grade school.

When I was a child, my mother made up stories and read to me regularly and the effect was immeasurable. As much as I enjoyed television, radio, and that other time consuming activity known as "real life," my favorite thing to do was to be read to and, once I learned to do it, to read.

It was not too long before I began to contemplate the creative, rather than the consumptive, side of the pastime. I had a head full of ideas and an urge to emulate those who had brought me so much pleasure.

My first attempt at a story - a book actually - was called "Squeam." I was 8 or so and the tale related the adventures of an ant soldier involved in the endless ant wars: red against black. It was to be an illumination on the folly of racism but I became mired in the details of using cats as war vehicles. Though I never got past the second chapter, the ease and enjoyment of the process remained an important, yet somehow stifling, revelation.

I continued to dabble in writing off and on through my school years - poetry, comedy, fiction, parody, songs, and more - but despite all this interest in writing, I did a lot more talking about the craft than actually practicing it. I knew, deep down, that I could write and, unfortunately, this sense seemed to be enough for me.

It wasn't until I joined a writer's group in the early 90's that I came to know the actual challenge of writing as well as realize that, though I had a lot of skill-honing to do, I wasn't too bad at it.

I still find more time to think of myself as a writer rather than practice as one, and thus the state of my skills and output. Still, I continue to improve and, when I do find that magical moment when the oomph to write meets the time to do so, little else is as satisfying.

cae 9-2010