Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tappity Tap Tap by Melissa Clark

I grew up watching my writer-dad scribble ideas on yellow legal steno paper and type drafts on to his Smith-Corona typewriter. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. There was a small diversion, age 10, when I thought perhaps acting was my calling, but once I discovered the Judy Blume books it was back to writing.

Looking back, I see I had the makings of a writer even at a young age as I was:

1. Incredibly shy - I had a horrible tic which was to grab my leg and stretch it behind me, like a runner preparing for a race, when talking to people. My leg was my security blanket. Something to clutch onto. How weird is that? Total makings of a writer.

2. An only child (for a little while) - My sister was born when I was nine so up until then it was me and my imagination for company. And books. Lots and lots of books.

3. Always writing short stories on my dad's old typewriters - sure, I only used my right hand and it took a while to complete a sentence, let alone a page, but I kept at it.  
After that, it was a writing major at college (Emerson), a graduate degree from a writing program (UC Davis), a job in publishing (Chronicle Books), lots of freelance writing gigs, a move to television, some residencies at various artist colonies (Ragdale, Vermont Studio Center) and finally, joyfully, thrillingly, a foray into novels.

Now I teach writing (Otis College), can carry on a conversation without clutching my leg (usually) and continue to devour books which, I think, is the best form of a continuing education.

11 comments:

  1. While I have seen you tappity-tap-tap your fingers across the keyboard and teach a writing class I have never seen you clutch your right leg--perhaps all three at once--a new yoga pose? The lilokasana?
    xoMM

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  2. Maggie, you are hilarious. I lost my shyness by the time we met. And - um - what are you doing online? Don't you have a book to complete? :)

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  3. Funny! And because I'm a writer, I want to know if you switched legs during the same conversation or if it was always the same leg.

    So glad you let go long enough to write!

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  4. Great story Melissa! It always amazes me to hear about someone who knew what they wanted to do so early and stuck it right out:). I was more of the school of "all over the place".

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  5. I love this!! I used to write little plays for my friends to act in when I was little.

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  7. I love this post, and what is it about Judy Blume? I work in a book store and my heart still feels such joy when I sell one of her books, and usually the customer and I reminisce about our own reading history with Judy.
    I think those of us who love books, and writing are a unique but special breed. While I may never be published or known, I'll read until the end.....and love each moment.

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  8. @Christa - I think I probably stuck to the same leg per conversation, though can't remember for sure! @Lucy - nothing wrong with the school of "all over the place." I kind of wish I'd attended that one. @ Brenda - love that you were the playwright of the bunch. @Anita - Judy Blume is/was the best. She taught me everything I needed to know, on so many levels!

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  9. Do you still type with just one hand? I'm a five-fingered typist: two on the left, three on the right.

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  10. @Lauren - I'm a ten-fingered typist now. Interesting about your typing process - I'm going to try it for kicks!

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  11. that is so cool, I wish I could have grown up looking at my father writing ideas, but I never met my father and that hit so much and that is constant topic on my writings

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