I recently read an interview with the wonderful writer, Jennifer Weiner, who when writers asked her for career advice, she told them that the most important thing is to have had an unhappy childhood. When I first read this statement, it truly resonated with me. Though it implies that an awful childhood provides ample fodder for story lines, in truth, an unhappy childhood enables the child to explore their own minds for comfort and companionship.
Growing up in a predominantly asian culture, it was very difficult for me to make friends so I retreated into the depths of my imagination and created friends to play with. As I got older, I would build the worlds they lived in in my mind then supplied them with lifetimes of history. As soon as I learned how to use a pencil I started writing them down. I never thought about my writing as anything other than a means of escape until a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Barbara Follrath, said five simple words as she handed back my paper on Charles Dickens. Her tone was kind and the comment was more off-hand than deliberate but I will never forget that moment.
"You should be a writer."
Many years and thousands of pages later, here I am.