Me at age 7. I am really going places! (Photo by my dad, Bob Braithwaite)
It seems that whenever I read an author bio or interview, I find out that the author knew from a very young age that he or she wanted to be a writer. I could say the same thing, I guess, but it would be pretty misleading.
I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a writer. That’s true. But I also knew at a very young age that I wanted to be an architect, an artist, an explorer, an Olympic gold medalist (preferrably in gymnastics or figure skating), a second-grade teacher, and definitely a pediatrician.
One of the lines I’ve read recently that had a great impact on me was this one from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
“…sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
When I first read that line, I had to catch my breath because I felt those words so deeply. There is so much that I want to do. Okay, I’ve given up my dreams of Olympic glory, but I still want to do almost all of the things I wanted to do as a child. I want to be the person that creates a beautiful, safe home and works of art and charts new territory and teaches kids really cool new things and fixes them when they’re hurt. There’s not a single one of those dreams that I’m ready to give up on.
And that, I think, is why I’ve realized in the last few years that what I want most of all is to be a writer. And why, specifically, I want to write for children. To build and explore exciting worlds for them and with them, to create something beautiful and truly original, to teach them brand new things and discover new things alongside them. To help them heal, and to fix at least a little piece of what’s not right in their lives.
Someday, when I’m all grown up, I hope to say that I’ve done all those things. That I lived out all those dreams because I knew, at a not-so-young age, that what I really wanted was to be a writer.