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How I started writing

This very grainy photo is one of very few that go back this far in my life, my parents not being big photo takers. It was an expensive and often vexsome endeavour at that time. I believe I was two. At some point, not too long after this, I became obsessed with stories.

One of the first I remember is a colouring book that came in a cereal box. There was a creature - I think it was an elephant - that travelled the world. It had beautiful, slightly wonky spirals drawn on its knees that fascinated me a lot. There was a beach scene with an umbrella. I had never seen such a place and it enchanted me.

Once I was able to manage a crayon, I started making picture stories. This was in the days when teaching children their letters before they went to school wasn't a thing - though I was dying to know - so I couldn't add clumsy pre-school text. Eventually, there were a whole cast of characters who peopled my stories: the little bow girl, the apple lady and the banana man, the milk bottle mamma and her many babies. They had so many adventures, always unfolding from right to left like a Persian scroll. I didn't know that, in Canada, stories were supposed to go the other way.

So, I can barely remember a time when I didn't make stories. Like so many writers, I went through long periods when I didn't believe I was good enough, so I didn't write fiction at all, even if I was always writing other kinds of things in the course of my work. But that can only last for so long. If you're meant to do something, you'll do it.

I have no idea why I was practically born with stories wanting to come out. Who ever knows these things? But I look at this old photo and I see observing eyes, the eyes of someone who can be an author. So I write. That's how I started. And I'm pretty sure I'll always write, in one way or another.

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