In Irving, as a teenager, I had no aspirations of becoming a writer until my senior year of high school. I read very little. I was into whom I could pickup with my convertible, dancing at the weekly sock hop, and working after school at Safeway. I earned my own money and spent it as fast as I made it. Fifty years later, I can easily remember everything that happened to me then (or I think I can): can still see my friends, can still hear our conversations, and can still go back to our hangouts. It is that ability…the visualization and auditory recall…that has helped me as much as if I had been an avid reader.
One of the first plays of mine, the first one produced at the Dallas Theater Center, had in it all of the girl chasing and street-racing I knew. It came shortly after I left high school (no more than three years) and after writing only a few works. Somehow I had developed some skill, and through practice and with instruction I gained some success. I had had little encouragement outside of teachers…surprisingly my father saved newspaper clippings about me and my work…in fact there was more discouragement than encouragement. I had been put down; I became determined to prove those people wrong.
Just as I was struggling to keep from flunking out of Baylor University (one comma splice would’ve done the trick), I was writing, basically automatically and using the awful English I grew up with. I didn’t know the difference. (I used that same ear when I took my freshman English proficiency exam: I have no idea how I made it.) I couldn’t write a sentence as a child and only read a few books; but from somewhere I acquired a desire to write and wrote in spite of all of the disparaging remarks. I haven’t needed much from the outside to keep me going; I would keep writing no matter what. Through persistence, and the need always to write, I have made it this far: here I sit in front of my computer writing on this Christmas 2008. Pretty good for a 65 year-old novice.