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At the Root of Writing is Creativity

These days, with my debut middle grade out in the world, people seem to want to know if I’d always wanted to be a writer. And I did. Ever since I can remember, that’s all wanted to do (except for that year in the fourth grade when I wanted to be a child psychologist). But why? What was it about the written word that attracted me, that attracts some people and not others? Guest column by Michele Corriel, whose lives in Montana, and is a regional advisor for SCBWI. Her debut middle grade novel, Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery (Blooming Tree/Tire Swing Press)

These days, with my debut middle grade out in the world, people seem to want to know if I’d always wanted to be a writer. And I did. Ever since I can remember, that’s all wanted to do (except for that year in the fourth grade when I wanted to be a child psychologist). But why? What was it about the written word that attracted me, that attracts some people and not others?

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Guest column by Michele Corriel, whose lives in
Montana, and is a regional advisor for SCBWI.
Her debut middle grade novel,
Fairview Felines:
A Newspaper Mystery

(Blooming Tree/Tire Swing Press),

came out Oct. 2010, and is about a boy
who wants to start his own school newspaper but
must first prove himself worthy.

For one thing, I loved to read. According to my mother, not always the best authority on all things, but I’ll have to take her word on this one, says that I read when I was two. Really? Two? That seems a bit outlandish. But the gist of it is—I loved to read. So maybe it was that surreal connection to books that started me on this vocation.

But maybe not.

A lot of people love to read. Not all of them are writers. I could have been a librarian. So it has to be more than that. When I was in school, I was very good at writing. Probably because my reading level was so high. That’s only natural. Perhaps it came easily to me, and that snowballed into something I liked to do. Writing is just thinking on paper, really.

But it’s more than that. There is a certain power in the written word. And in fiction, (as with poetry) there is the power of world building, of creating a world where you control what happens (sort of).

And that is definitely appealing to me. I grew up in a very chaotic environment and books were there when no one else was. Books allowed me to enter a place that was safe. Things had a beginning, a middle and a (happy) ending. That was reassuring. Writing took me a step further. I wasn’t just entering a world on the page, but it was a world in my mind put on paper and I could enter it, change it, rearrange it.

The final nail in the coffin came when I was about eight. There were a group of kids my sister and I hung around with. It was summer. We were bored. A couple of girls still played with dolls—Raggedy Ann dolls to be exact—and I had this idea. I told the kids that out behind our apartment building there was a magic place, a place where Raggedy Ann dolls went at night when everyone was asleep. Of course they didn’t believe me. So I had to prove it to them. I told them the next morning, if they went out to the “fields” early enough they would find a present from Raggedy Ann.

The next morning they all ran from their apartments and hit the field. And there, in the slanting morning light they found little stashes of coins waiting for them. And really, it was at that moment, when a story I’d made up came to life, that I knew the power of a good story (and a few quarters). After that, my future was sealed. Of course, I’m still working on plot issues. I mean, really, why would Raggedy Ann leave money in a field?

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