When I was younger I first started to read say Dr. Seus and just fairytales. Kid stuff really, this was before we (my mother and I) knew I needed glasses. So I was very stubborn in reading, I hated it, I couldn't see what word was what. Astigmatism is a plain pain in the ass if you catch my drift. However, after I got glasses in first grade, I couldn't stop reading, I loved it. I read everything I could. The longest book I had read at the time was the unabridged Dracula by Bram Stoker. I finished it by Christmas my first grade year and had moved through several of the classic horror books by second grade.
I began to write, like most writers do, I lied. I lied about everything when I was younger. Made up stories to get out of doing chores or homework. So I suppose the first person to ever read my "writings" was my mother. Of course the older I got the more elaborate the lies were until finally I started just to write them down. Of course this was the start of my fiction writing. Before I even tried prose I wrote poetry. My early stuff was pretty bad, poor spelling, incorrect use of lexicon. I loved poetry and still do, it's a freedom that most other writing forms don't allow. You can throw out everything about a language and still write good poetry.
I first read Nancy Drew and Charlotte's Web which led to Agatha Christie and Dick Francis, but it was John Steinbeck who was the first to move me deeply. I also read all the poets and was primarily a poet until I ventured into fiction and memoir five years ago.
I began writing poetry when I learned how to form letters. My mother attributes this to the fact that she read poetry to me while I was in the womb, and I'm glad she did - there is a lot of down time in there. It is my passion to capture the ineffable by juxtaposing sensuous images - our language is limited in its ability to convey feeling and to truly communicate what is in our minds, hearts and souls. Poetry can do this.
Peers, teachers and family read my work first. My parents have been huge support.
When I was a child, my father had the delighful habit of calling out each and every sign our Willys automobile passed whenever we were going someplace. Hearing his voice and relating it to what he intoned must have influenced me mightily. I learned to connect sound and word. Later, at the age of 13, I became an amateur-theatre actor and, at the age of 17, a radio announcer...primarily because, like most talking heads, my talent was the ability to read aloud without strumbling much. Must have been all that experience at reading signs. To this day, I call out signs when I'm driving, as do my older sister and younger brother.
My mother was the first to read what I wrote, since it was crayoned on the bathroom wall at the age of four.
I can't remember when I first began to write, but I know that I wanted to be a journalist when I was in the 8th grade. And so I got my journalism degree from Marquette University and worked at The Milwaukee Journal for 37 years. I started as a reporter, then became state editor and then staff development director In the last job, I was one of the first writing coaches in the country.
I also began teaching journalism courses, part time, at Marquette, and continue to do so. I now teach Narrative Nonfiction Writing.
So all of my work until recently has been nonfiction -- journalism.
Periodical monthly and weekly magazines (Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Life, Redbook, et. al.) my mother used to teach me to read. My mother, school teachers, friends, etc.
When my mother read to me when I was a very small child I knew that I wanted to create stories that people would love. I SO wanted to learn to read the words myself and couldn't wait to go to school.
The first books I read were a series about a little girl named Honey Bunch by author Helen Louise Thorndyke. It was a mystery series for children.
I graduated from those to the Judy Bolton Series by Margaret Sutton. They were much like Nancy Drew but I liked them much better :)
I also enjoyed the favorites that were given us in school such as Charlotte's Web and The Boxcar Children.
Besides the popular culture, I was also interested in the classics beginning with
Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, Little Men, and my favorite - Eight Cousins.
Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and David Copperfield. (A Tale of Two Cities having been read in school).
But it was at the age of 11 when I read J.R.R.Tolkien that my flight of fancy was absorbed and focused on Fantasy and Adventure.
This, finally, was a genre that took possession of one's imagination, for what ever one could imagine could become reality at last.
First to read my works are, as usual, family and friends.
At a young age, I loved "The Three Investigators" series by Robert Arthur (and others). I read all the ones our school library had. Then I started reading the Newbery winners like My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I wanted a llama.
Actually, in school, I didn't like to write because we had to. Also, the teachers told us what to write. Not until college did I start to write for fun.
In my first job, I wrote technical manuals and guides. Characters and plots started showing up, so I found a fiction writers group and joined.
I grew up reading early and voraciously and began writing on my own shortly afterward. My maternal grandmother had a BA in Journalism and my mother was a poet. Their encouragement and early influences made it a natural part of my life. I kept a journal and had my first poem published at around age 11. I began writing longer fiction in my early thirties.
I loved to read biographies of people like Kit Carson and Daniel Boone. After listening to Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles, I started writing poems and songs. In high school, I passed these songs and poems around to friends. One friend (Jim Canning) and I wrote a narrative poem entitled "The Armless Hitchhiker" which we performed for our classmates. It was and is quite funny in a black humor, sick way.
I remember as a kid, my mom bought me some books from some educational school or place. I really can't remember the books or where they came from, but I do remember they were way above the typical books of the time for kids my age. I loved them.
When I was in elementary school, my favorite book was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. I still want to spend the night in a museum.
I began to write in fourth grade and began submitting stories to publishers in tenth grade. So I suppose my teachers and those New York editors of the 1970s were the first to read my writing.
Who the heck knows what they really thought? I got grades from the teachers and rejection letters from the editors.
The story that my grandmother about how she got my grandfather was my first reading in 1984. I started writing fiction from the tales that my grandma narrated every night.
My students from school and university were the first; the my teachers were in the list.
I cannot remember a time when I wasn't reading. I started reading when I was very, very young ... before starting primary school. I think the books I initially started reading were those written by Dr. Seuss. I started writing when I was in first grade in Catholic School. The first people to read my writing included my parents and the nun who was my first grade teacher.
I began reading at age three, so I don't remember those first books very clearly. I started writing pretty soon after that, too. I was kicked out of kindergarten for literacy; at the school I attended, literate kids had to go to first grade, where they had no toys or naps. I'm still a little bitter about that.
A) The first books I read on my own were: Dr. Seuss and the Spot, Dick and Jane series was what we started with in school.
B) Hand made cards are a tradition in the King family, as opposed to store bought. My father the architect, of course is a talented artist, my mother attended art school and also was accomplished, My sister spent many years in the visual arts, even my brother Andrew showed promise. I however had difficulty painting a fence post, therefore, in the tradition of my family I took to writing poetry. This way I fulfilled my family obligation and began to write.
C) My family and friends were the first to read my poetry.