From the love of reading to the love of writing
Although my mom could not read properly, my dad read a lot of books. He was a crossword puzzle and word search person and eagerly solved everything in the daily and weekend papers when I was a kid. Most of the books in our home library he won by sending his answers to the newspapers. Inside each one was a sticker saying he had won this book as a first, second or third prize. So you see, for me, books were rewards since before I was able to read.
In my family, we never had kids’ books. We mostly had Encyclopedias and adult novels, so when I wanted to read books for joy, I had to take my bike and ride over 25 minutes to the only library we had in town. Once a week, I made this trip with my best friend and neighbor. We could only borrow 3 books, so sometimes we would sit inside the library for an hour just to be able to read one more book.
I think that for my parents, watching me read was a rare joy. I was a sick girl, I did not have friends in class, I was a tomboy and loved the street games and, if that was not enough, I was a very bad student at school. At least I read books.
When I was a teen, our school librarian loved me dearly. I used to go into the library and offer to help her only to be close to the books, touch them and read the summaries on their back covers. Every book took me to the land of imagination and I was living proof that “books take you to unknown places”. I read so fast I would take a book home every day and return it the next day. If the book was very good, I would force myself to stop reading it to enjoy it longer. I remember the battle inside me, one voice saying “Let’s leave some to enjoy tomorrow” and another voice saying “There are a million more books waiting for me to read them”.
About that time, I realized there was no conscious reason for me to choose a particular book. I used to browse the shelves and some books would call me to take them. They did not have a particular size, special cover or beautiful photo. Sometimes, they did not even have a description on the back. I just had a gut feeling I needed to read that book. I read for hours, taking myself to places where my health, my relationships or my schoolwork did not matter. Books were my sanctuary.
At the age of 14, I started writing. I could see new stories like movies in my head and just put them on paper. I would wait for the school day to end just to come back home and put my visions in my notebook, so they would not disappear in the overwhelm of life.
For over 10 years, I had one and only fan – my younger sister – who still keeps my notebooks with my first naïve stories written by hand. She believes that one day, people will recognize what a treasure she has. Every day, she would come and ask me “Are you finished writing?” and would admire every word in my stories. Almost like a man standing outside a delivery room waiting for the doctor to come out and say his baby is healthy, I would wait for my sister’s verdict and she would come out with an excited look on her face and say it was awesome and she could not wait for the next one.
As a teenager, I made some attempts to send manuscripts to publishers. Some never replied and others said, “Great material. If you were famous, we’d publish it with no problems at all”, but because I did not know how to become famous and all I wanted was a publisher who would take care of publishing my books and allow me to do what I love doing, I gave up trying and just wrote for myself.
For years, just like the feeling I had while looking at books and thinking they wanted me to take them home, I felt that in my head, the stories asked me to write them. At first, it was easy, because I wrote short stories. Each story would take me some time to direct it in my mind and then I could sit for one or two hours and finish writing it. But later, all my characters developed so much that two hours were not enough and I needed more time to write my stories.
For over 20 years, I wrote my stories by hand, although I had a computer for over 10 of these years. I loved the flow of my sharpened pencils on the paper and whenever I wrote, I felt wonderful. It was almost like giving birth to a whole bunch of people and conveying their messages to the world. If for many years, I wrote for the love of reading, this gradually changed to the love of writing.
These days, as I celebrate 30 years of writing, I still go to the library to touch the books and hear them asking me to take them home and read them. Since our library allows me to borrow 20 books each time (for each family member!), I now feel as if dozens of books ask me to borrow them. One voice in me says “I should leave some books for next week” and the other voice says “I will never have time to read them all, so I’d better hurry”.
Every day, when I write my stories and posts, I direct 7 movies at a time in my mind. I write millions of notes with ideas for my stories and hope they will not disappear. Inside me, one voice says “I also have to live, work and be with my family”, but many other voices beg me “Write me Ronit, I’m locked here inside your mind. Please set me free and send me out to the world”.
Only time will tell how well I choose.