I first started writing because I thought the pictures in my coloring books needed stories to go with them. I’d write in the margins with the crayons that were too boring to color with, like Burnt Umber and Neutral Grey.
I became a life-long story-writing addict. I wrote plays for my friends to put on in the back yard, and when I ran out of friends, I put on puppet shows. Then at summer camp I discovered Nancy Drew and started killing off people I didn’t like in my own little mystery stories.
When I was ten I invented a prepubescent cat burglar named Lavinia. She worked with a gang, but she was the boss. I outlined tons of stories about her, although I’m not sure I ever finished any. I was very good at first paragraphs—the follow-through, not so much.
Luckily all my juvenilia was lost in my family’s many moves. I went into the theater but never stopped writing. I had some of my plays produced by local college and community theaters, but I never thought seriously about publishing anything until I was well into my forties.
It was never about being read. It was about the stories.
They were in my head and had to come out. They still do. So I guess I’ll keep telling them until they pry those Burnt Umber crayons from my cold, dead hands.