My Inspiration: The Early Years
All good stories begin with a great beginning. With that said, in reference to life, I don’t see why mine (and yours) should be any different. So, how should we begin?
Well, let’s see. Ah, yes. Of course! Let’s start with one of my favorite beginnings: “Once upon a time…”
…a young boy was attending school without any expectations of something extraordinary. Life for him wasn’t as fortunate as it was for other kids. But, at the time, life for him was anything but unfortunate.
The boy had something that most of the kids at his school didn’t have; fantastic worlds at his disposal. His imagination had erupted a few years before, and in the safety and seclusion of his home, he was free to explore them at will.
And explore…he did.
I was blessed with a father who would tell stories and play pretend; thus fueling my imagination. Everywhere I looked, anywhere I was, I saw things much differently than those around me.
My favorite school years were, hands down, the years I spent at my elementary school. The school was kindergarten through the fifth grade. And little did I realize at the time just how much of an impact the school, primarily the teachers I sat under, would have on me for the rest of my life.
It was in the second grade when a remarkable thing happened. My teacher, Mrs. Rector, walked us down to the library at the beginning of the book fair that was going on. I always anticipated the book fairs, but I never quite understood why.
Upon walking into the library, my most favorite place in the world at the time, I excitedly looked over the rows of books in a state of pure awe and wonder. And then, sitting on one of the lower racks, I saw it. The single book that changed my life:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
When we got back to the classroom, Mrs. Rector had us write a letter to some one (I don’t remember to whom the letters were going to be sent to) and tell that person what book(s) we liked and wanted at the book fair.
It’s no surprise what book I wrote about. But I took it further. I described how my parents were poor and didn’t have money to spare to buy the book with.
Later that week we received our replies.
I opened my letter and out fell some cash money! My classmates were jealous. And I really didn’t know how to feel about it myself. But instead of running to the library like a crazy person and buy my book I took the money home and hid it between the mattress and box springs.
I figured my parents could use the money and was hiding until I could figure out how to surprise them with it without getting into trouble on the thought that I had stole it.
The next day, I was back in the library with a heavy heart. I watched the other kids buying up books and bookmarks and I used every ounce of willpower I had to hold back my tears. As I was in school, sitting in my Union Mission bought clothes thinking about the book, my mother was changing the sheets on my bed back home.
Later that day, she sat me on the bed and, producing the money, asked me why I had the money hid away. So, I told her everything.
She told me that the money was mine; that I could do with it whatever I wanted. And so the next day, with money in my pocket and glee in my heart, I went to school. I was a man on a mission!
I guess I had an angel looking after me because that day was Friday-and also the last day of the book fair. Being such, we walked to the library one last time for one last chance to purchase something.
My happy butt made a bee line to the paperback and immediately bought it. The funny thing was, I didn’t even know what it was about! And when I did read it, admiring the pencil illustrations and the witty characters, I noticed that Charlie Bucket was, in essence, ME!
I saw my life on paper that was written long before I was even born.
My mind was blown!
I still have that book to this day. It’s one of my most cherished physical possessions. Around this same time, I wrote my first book. I took a spiral notebook and wrote a story about a blue bird catching a worm. I then used the yellow divider pages as the covers.
I illustrated the cover and pages within the book and colored the pictures in with crayons. I stapled the pages together and even had the sense to copyright it! I still have this book, too.
In the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Hook, read books to the class. Such titles included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, Bunnicula, and others.
Needless to say, I was starting to see my life’s purpose before me. In the fifth grade, my reading teacher, Mrs. Hopper, was going to be the first to put this theory to the test; writing stories to read to the class. And I did so with purpose. Fortunately, they always seemed to go over well.
In closing, I think the world for those who have inspired me to write. I may never become the next Charles Dickens or Lewis Carroll, but if I can give my readers something that will bring a smile to their face or take them from this world to some fantastic place, even for a moment, no matter how brief, then I will have done my job.
To all of my fans… Thank you! To each and every one of you, thank you for your readership!