Monday, March 17, 2014

The birth of a storyteller

When was the first moment you knew you wanted to be a writer?

by Meredith Cole

Some people just know they are writers from a very young age. That was definitely me. Before I even knew how to form words with my pen, I dictated stories to my mother. She was very patient about acting as my secretary, even though reading some of my early works makes me giggle. There was no real plot, they were inspired rather heavily by fairy tales and they often ended quite oddly and abruptly. 

I knew that words on the page were intriguing and entertaining. When I started to learn my letters, I would fill the page with nonsense (AAAAA...) or curly-cues and then proceed to "read" my story out loud to any interested person. Or I would sit down at the typewriter and type away for awhile until I felt I had sufficient letters on the page to create a story and then go in search of an audience. I also loved using a tape recorder, and I would make up stories on the spot and record them. My baby brother was one of my first audiences for my books on tape.

I also loved to read. In my opinion summer afternoons were best spent with a book and a quiet corner. But I never stopped writing. I have journals dating back to my elementary school years which are fascinating, really, only to me. They mostly consisted of recording the events of the day. Every once in a while I wrote about something else--like a dream--and when I read them over suddenly everything about how it felt to be a particular age comes rushing back to me.

At some point in high school, my love for writing turned into a more general love for storytelling. I became fascinated with filmmaking. I spent a semester of college at New York University, and then made a documentary my final year at Smith College. I wrote screenplays, directed features and worked in television for over 10 years. I dabbled from time to time with short stories, poetry and started the occasional novel. But it wasn't until I was pregnant that I realized that what I had really wanted to do all along was write books. After all, I read far more than I watched movies or TV shows. So I started writing a mystery novel and finished it. And then wrote another. And never looked back.

If you're coming to the Virginia Festival of the Book this weekend, come by to see me on a panel this Friday at two talking about the anthology of short stories VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES. Also come see Art Taylor at 8 PM Friday moderate a panel with Lisa Scottoline, Ellen Crosby and lots more fabulous writers. Check out the schedule online for all the great Crime Wave events Friday and Saturday.


Paul D. Marks said...

Sounds like a true calling, Meredith.

And when you say, "There was no real plot, they were inspired rather heavily by fairy tales and they often ended quite oddly and abruptly." -- That sounds like a lot of movies these days :)

Meredith Cole said...

Ha! You're so right, Paul... I think my younger self was ahead of the curve!

Art Taylor said...

Your childhood love of reading and writing sounds a lot like mine, Meredith. I'm going to have to think of something new to say later this week! And thanks for the shout-out on this week's festival events. Look forward to seeing you in Charlottesville!

Meredith Cole said...

Sorry to steal your story, Art! Blogging on Friday is always a bit challenging with this crew.

Looking forward to catching up soon!

Unknown said...

Sounds a lot like me! I couldn't imagine (and still can't) a cooler thing to do then be a storyteller.

Susan C Shea said...

Have fun at the Virginia event - I just returned from the Tucson Festival of Books. It's lovely to be surrounded by 100,000 readers!

Do you think CHILDHOOD+INTENSE READING=WRITER? Our responses to the question always seem to devolve to that.