Why do I write? part 1

It’s not in my genes. No writers or poets in my family. Well, my great-grandfather was a somewhat famous German sci-fi writer and archeological explorer. But he was a second husband and didn’t supply genes. I did inherit my love of horses and horseback riding from my grandmother, but that’s not what this entry is about.

I’ve always been an avid storyteller and a voracious reader. Long before I started to put pen to paper, I was already fully immersed in the world of make-believe. I devoured all things published: books, dime novels, comics; you name it, I read it. I never missed an episode of those wonderful British and Eastern German teen series on TV. Only later did I learn that Enith Blyton’s five friends and their dog Timmy actually lived in books, before they became a TV show. Same with Kurt Held’s heroine, red Zora. My friends and I would become our favorite characters and reenact the episodes or create our own, based on the parameters of the show. Early fan “fiction!” By the time I was eight or nine, we’d moved on to the classics: we were musketeers for the longest time. We even held fencing contests (no holds barred, we fought to first blood). Today I can only shake my head and wonder how I survived those years. And yes, I was a tomboy.

I didn’t progress from storytelling (and fan “fiction”) to actually writing fiction easily. Nope. I was twelve when I was sent to one of those professional tutoring services because my understanding of the rules that governed the German language was atrocious. Oh, if you didn’t know: I’m German, born and bred. So I went to my assessment, and they made me write an essay: what I did last summer. I hadn’t done a thing, hadn’t gone anywhere and hadn’t accomplished anything. Summers then consisted solely of reading and playing with my friends. But I had to write this essay. So I made something up, was promptly labeled as a kid with her head in the clouds (a very bad thing if you’re German) and never looked back.

I worked my way through a variety of genres. By sixteen I had a finished young adult romance novel complete with all the trappings that make my stories mine: the male protagonist and story from his point of view, the angst and drama of being a younger son struggling to find his way. Of course, I was also sixteen, so the younger son was hopelessly in love with a nice girl. No boy on boy love for me yet.

I did submit that novel to a German literary agent. Some weeks later I received a positive reply and an offer of representation. Unfortunately, though, I was only sixteen and not living with my parents at the time (we didn’t get along, that whole head in the clouds kind of thing). Let’s just say nothing ever came of it.

So why do I write?

In the words of Tennessee Williams: “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t write. I’d probably go mad.”

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