True confession: I did not always want to be a writer. I was not one of those kids who scribbled stories all the livelong day. I was one of those kids who read stories. And books, poetry, comics, Mad Magazine and the back of the cereal box. I loved words; I ate ’em up like …well, sugar-coated cereal.
And I collected words, especially from songs. Sometimes, it would be a single word (I learned “syncopation” from The Music Man) and sometimes, it would be a funny phrase (Like Funiculi, Funicula. I only know the English words to that song, but turns out it’s Italian. Who knew?). I kept all these words in my head until it finally ocurred to me that I could write them down. Then, when I needed a word lift, I’d go to my notebook and read a poem or a quote or sing my favorite song lyrics.
I cannot tell you how many times I sat, listening to the same song over and over again, so I could get every single word copied down. Or how I would have to pay overdue fines because I’d checked out a book of poetry and hadn’t written down all of my favorite poems. I’d tear lines out of our Reader’s Digest or scribble a phrase on a piece of paper. Even now, I’ll write down a phrase or a line, or even a paragraph that pleases me, but I hardly ever tear something out of a magazine (Okay, that’s not true. But they’re my magazines, so it’s okay.).
And then, wham! The truth dawned on me today, as I was thinking of what to write on Valentine’s Day. The longest love affair of my life has been with words. But honestly, the Beneficent Mr. Hall runs a very close second.