Feature Article

Life's Little Misleads: How Reading Made Me A Writer

by Justine Manzano



     I feel as though I have been reading all of my life.  It began with an obsession with reciting Green Eggs and Ham over and over again to everyone who would listen, and it as continued, following through all of the twists and turns in my life, inspiring my choices.  All the way up until now, I have always had a book traveling with me.  Reading has changed my life over and over again.  Reading has made me who I am today. 

     I can remember sitting in junior high school, and reading Romeo & Juliet for the first time.  That was the book that made me want to teach.  There was so much complexity, so much wonder to be found in the play and my teacher taught me how to spot metaphors, puns, and painful imagery within its pages.  It amazed me that such a thing was possible.  Romeo & Juliet was the first story I truly read with a critical eye.  I began enjoying looking for buried treasure in all books and became deeply disappointed when I realized that only a few rare gems truly had any.

     I can’t even remember when I realized that teaching was not my definite future.  I just remember realizing I lacked the patience needed.  It wasn’t until the end of high school that I found another “definite career.”  I would read plays like A Raisin in the Sun, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, &  A Doll’s House, and I would become entranced with the passion that had to be packed into each word only to be amplified by the actor on the stage.  Again, I missed the point.  Again, I chose the wrong message.  I decided that I would become an actress so that I may read such beautifully written works out loud daily to many, many people.  I had decided that this was my calling.

     It never occurred to me that I’d be terrible at it.  Come to think of it, it took years for me to even realize that fact.  As a matter of fact, I was married by that point, and both my husband, an unpublished but amazing writer of supernatural thrillers, and a friend recommended a book to me that most people wouldn’t consider a classic—it was a science fiction novel called Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and it was an amazing story of brilliant children of the future fighting a war at ridiculously young ages.  As I marveled at the meticulous research into child psychology and historical theory that Mr. Card brought into his piece, I was amazed to realize exactly what I had been doing wrong my entire life.

     There is only one thing that a person with my love of books (and my temperament) can do with their lives.  I was meant to be a writer.  It was never the English teacher’s intelligence or the actor’s passion that astonished me, though those were certainly valid.  It was the skill, grace, intelligence and buoyancy it takes to write such breathtaking work.  Books have always been a huge chunk of my world, but now, with one final decision, they most certainly are my world.  And I wouldn’t change a thing. 

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