This is the section where I’m supposed to tell you about how I was reading by the time I turned two, writing works of fiction by the age of four, and wrapping up the first volume of my memoirs by six or so.
I’ll tell you the truth instead: before I fell in love with reading and long before I started to write stories, all I wanted to do was play.That’s it. Just play.
But around the time I turned eleven, a bad thing happened. Some of my friends didn’t want to play anymore. I’d show up at a pal’s place, lugging a backpack filled with milkweed, my blanket, a box of baking soda, my leaf collection, and a flashlight, and the friend would actually say she was too old to play.
I couldn’t believe it!
That’s when I turned to books. As you probably already know, reading is a lot like playing—but safer because pouring over a book looks legit and no one thinks you’re nuts. Or maybe I mean playing is a lot like reading, except the stories are all one’s own. Anyway, from sixth grade on, I read and read and read. Over the years, I’ve done some other things, too, like moving from the farm country of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to the city of Jamestown, New York, and back to the country again, the fruit country by Lake Ontario, plus attending Binghamton University and Middlebury College, teaching high school and college English, making pottery, getting married, building a house, and having two kids. But between this and that, I’ve been busy reading.
Then about ten years ago, when I felt like I was running low on books with the kinds of characters I liked, I began to write some stories, myself…