Name:
Location: Gilbert, AZ

I am a writer, a photographer, and a Dork Chop FO-tog. I can be found on FB at www.facebook.com/TheRovingDorkChopFoTog and also on Flickr at www.flickr.com/therovingdorkchopfo-tog Mostly I capture what I see from my perspective.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How I came to be me


I became a writer way back in the first grade. I remember a classroom with desks that made a maze to the teacher's desk, and I remember that my teacher wore her hair in a very high ponytail.

She introduced me to prompt writing and the one saving grace I would come to know. There was a box of index cards each with one or two sentences from which the student was expected to jump into a fictional story.

Students groaned and complained everytime it was story box time. Not me, though. I loved the story box with a passion. It was a secret passion because even in first grade I knew it was not cool to like what everyone else hated.

I was certainly not a 'cool' kid – and I would certainly become less and less 'cool' as I grew up, but I always my imagination, and I always had writing.

I also developed a love of diagramming sentences. I liked it because even the most complex sentence had structure. I loved thesauruses and dictionaries. I loved using words that not everyone else used. I was not only not 'cool', I was a goober.

Looking back, one would notice an absence of friends in my childhood. I was a year younger than my peers due a November birthday and a December kindergarten deadline. I was barely four when I was bussed off to kindergarten crying hysterically. I was less mature than my peers, not 'cool' with an emerging goober quality.

Hand in hand with uncool gooberness came a extreme case of inattentive ADD. I was nicknamed 'Spacy Tracy' from Kindergarten to twelfth grade.

Living in the same home meant every year the same kids were my classmates. As I got older, the distraction earned me my name on the board frequently. I would be in class, listening to the teacher...until I wasn't.

My mind would wander off at random times and create alternate lives in an alternate universe until I would return to the classroom and the teacher to find that while I was gone, my name magically appeared on the board – again.

Most of the time it meant a recess spent in the classroom which was fine with me. Arizona recesses can be pretty hot! So, fifteen minutes of a cool, quiet classroom where my mind could wander away without fear of punishment?!? Sign me up! It was embarassing to get my name on the board nearly every day, but I could not help it.

That same active imagination helped me through many situations, including my loathing of canned peas. My mother was of the mindset that either you ate what was on your dinner plate – or you sat at the table until 9pm, at which time there would be a spanking. After the spanking, I was sent straight to bed.

During these many nights spent at the dinner table staring down a pile of smelly, soft, gross, snot green, round objects, that I was not going to consume, I would imagine myself away to a land that only existed for me.

A land where dragons protected princesses from the dungeon master who served peas to princesses. Sometimes this land had magic pea eating napkins, or pea consuming cats, dogs, birds, goats, trained army ants whose job was pea removal, or whatever else popped into my mind.

Because I was such a daydreamer I was also grounded quite a bit due to lackluster report cards. I knew that every nine weeks, I would be grounded for four weeks.

I knew there would be a spanking, there would be the lecture (the same lecture I would hear every nine weeks for 12 years), there would be disappointment, and there would be peas for dinner.

With only a few friends, and a whole lot of time spent grounded, I became a reader. When I obtained my first library card, I discovered worlds to add onto my already elaborate imaginary worlds. I learned how to disappear into fictional worlds that were just as good as the ones I created accidentally, and mostly at inappropriate times.

I discovered The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, Charlotte's Web, The Little Princess, and Anne of Green Gables. I grew to love Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and Ronald Dahl. Had it not been for these books and these authors my childhood would not have been nearly so exciting.

Today I am a writer for a few online news sites and I keep a blog for my own amusement. I have recently begun to let stories I have written for my children out to visit publishers and editors where they have been suprisingly well received.

My association with Keith Publications began with a random chance encounter. I was looking for an Ipad on craigs list. There just happened to be someone in Gilbert selling an Ipad. 

There was two weeks of negotiation and friendly banter over the price via text messages. I told him I was a “starving writer” and he shot right back that he was a “starving computer salesman”. It is fun for me to find other quick witted people with a sense of humor.

He visited my blog after a few exchanges, and he asked me if I wrote anything else. I told him I had written children's stories for my own children, but was not brave enough to send them off to face harsh critical editors where they were sure to be chewed to pieces and rejected. He encouraged me to submit them to a local publishing company he was associated with, and THAT is how I have come to Keith Publications where my “first born” story is due in October.

I honestly never expected my imagination to get me anywhere except into trouble, so any success is a suprise to me.

My first born story was written entirely while I was pulling weeds in my front yard.

Typically, this is ONE activity where I can be alone. Both of my children see this as an activity they do not want to be recruited into, so they steer clear when they see my garden gloves come out. However, on this one day my daughter was sent out by her father.

When her father sends her out to me, it tells me he is about to lose his mind, and cannot listen one more nanosecond. She came out and plopped down in the yard (squishing the alien grass rather than pulling it), and proceeded to let loose with a solid 30 minute tirade of “poor me”.

That is where the land of BooHoovia came from. While she was talking, I went to my familiar land of make believe and began to think that if SHE is from the land of BooHoovians, I am from a very different land of HaHavia (ha ha VEE yah). That would make me a natural born HaHavillian (ha ha VEE yan).

I decided her father would most certainly be a BooHoovian as he is rather pessimistic, and is mostly mopey. The punchline of the story (sorry, you'll have to read it to find out what becomes of the BooHoovian and HaHavillian people) came to me later that evening, and made me laugh out loud all by myself.

The household BooHoovians are used to these outbursts of laughter. They clearly lack the HaHavillian sense of humor.

Tisk, tisk, such a pity

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