Pancakes for Breakfast.
That incredible book left a mark on my childhood. It has no words but my sisters and I would ask my mom to read it over and over. Somehow the same pictures fostered a different story each time it was read. She guided my imagination and I was captivated. I started to “read” it to myself but it was never as satisfying. Maybe it was the giftedness of the author shining on every page or maybe it was my devotion to my mother and her passions, like Sherman Alexie’s devotion to his father, that pulled me in. My mom is a smart woman and she loves to read. She reads for fun but she also reads to educate herself. Books allow her to be a lifetime student. That is what I want from books too.
I can’t say for sure that this book instilled in me a craving for knowledge but it may have, ironically, inspired my love for words. All my life I have loved grammar, etymology, and reading just about anything. The English language is a passion of mine but I always liked to take in its beauty; to read and read but not to write. My dad used to read the early Harry Potter books to me every night. These experiences are so vivid for me. Hearing him tell the story was an experience full of wonder. I picked up the books when I could get through them by myself and I didn’t put them down.
A young Sherman Alexie started to read in a similar way that I did with Pancakes for Breakfast, matching the pictures in his comic book to what he imagined Superman would say. As an Indian child, pitied in non-Indian world, he read to save his life. He read with “equal parts joy and desperation.” “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant.” At some point, somewhat unbeknownst to him, he became a writer. I recognize some of his qualities evident in my motivation to write. Part of me says, “I am smart. I can do this. I can move an audience. I can make people feel something or think a little differently with my writing.” It is a little arrogant but it drives me to keep writing. Because I can. Because I should. Because it is a challenge. Because it is so important that I write.
Reading has always amazed me. Trusting my own writing, however, is a work in progress.