My love for writing started as a child, and I wouldn’t say it started with writing so much as storytelling. I come from a long line of storytellers. I can’t tell you how many times I heard some of the stories, but I didn’t care. They told the stories in a way that made you glad you got to hear it again. They knew how to weave a story.
My Grandpa N. would tell us hunting stories, some of them funny, some of them amazing. He’d tell us of ghostly specters and how he helped get rid of them. He told us stories of knowing things before they happened and how he saved some people because of it. His stories gave me the open-mindedness to believe anything was possible and the knowledge of how to convey those ideas to an audience.
My Grandma N. would tell me stories of how she and Grandpa had met. She told me all the feelings she had, how he scared her but excited her, and how his persistence had finally won her over. She told me of the tricks they played on my father, and she told me the story behind each piece of jewelry she had and why it was important to her. Through my grandmother, I learned the importance of memories and how feelings can propel a story to a whole new level.
My Grandpa M. would tell me silly stories. His stories always left me wondering if he’d been telling the truth or pulling my leg. I’d ask him if he was joking and he’d smile, give me a wink, and say, “I don’t know.” I loved his silly stories and his sense of humor. His stories taught me the importance of a comedic release in a story. I’m writing a horror now, and I still find times to add a bit of humor into the story. I find the comedic elements I include give my audience a break before I bring them more terror. When a scene is tense, I leave it tense, but when we leave the tension behind and my protagonist is safe again, I allow her some laughs. I think it’s natural to draw on humor in some of our darkest moments.
My Grandma M. had to be one of my biggest influencers. Every time we spent the night, she told us a story. Most often it was the story of Candyland, and the two kids always shared names with my brother and me. She always said not you two, a different Donna and Jeff, which always made us giggle. Every single element in her Candyland she made more real with her details. She’d describe how it looked, smelled, and tasted. By the time she was done, you felt like you’d walked into Candyland. She taught me the importance of using the senses in my writing.
She, also, gave me the love to write in other ways. She let me use her typewriter. I loved using the typewriter. I felt like such a big deal typing on it. She’d tell me stories about working for the newspaper. She hadn’t been a journalist, but she had been a photographer. She’d tell me such stories about going out to scenes of accidents and ball games. I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted to write the stories. When I sat down at her typewriter, I pretended I was the journalist and Grandma was my photographer. She gave me my first desire to tell people a story, whether true or completely from my cranium.
I’m not a journalist. I’m a writer, though. I wanted to write all through high school. I liked my essay assignments. One of my English teachers actually encouraged me to enter contests. I told my mother he wanted me to enter contests and I wanted to be a journalist. She told me writing was a pipe dream, and I needed a real job. I dropped writing. At the time, I thought my only job was to find a way to make my parents happy. As I got older, I learned I needed to make me happy, so I started writing again. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa N. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa M.