by Lis Wiehl
If we’re lucky, we have a dream of what we want to be when we grow up. I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was a little girl growing up in rural Washington State.
As the daughter of an FBI agent, I grew up with my Dad telling me stories of cops and robbers. The older I got, it began to dawn on me that those stories were about real people and actual events. And I read. I read everything.
One of my earliest memories is of walking out of the county library, my shiny new library card in tow. I was like the proverbial kid in the candy store while in that library. And, if you’d have passed me on my way out of that library you’d have scarcely have seen my head behind the stack of books I was taking home.
In those days, I thought it would be a very natural course for me to grow up to write fiction, just like the kind I was reading. And my mother, a Danish immigrant with a PhD in English, thought that whatever I set my mind to doing I would accomplish.
But as I got older the dream of becoming a writer—especially a fiction writer—seemed more elusive, more fanciful. And, as my studies took the course of law, I wondered if I would ever get to follow through with my dream of becoming a fiction writer. The study of law requires an exactitude of analysis that is often the antithesis of fiction writing.
I wondered if my dreams for writing were fading. Until I got a sign.
Hear this: One day I ventured back to my old grade school, aptly named “Apple Valley,” in the agricultural valley of Yakima, Washington. As I meandered through the school’s library, I randomly picked up a book and looked at the card in the back used to check out the book. My name was scrawled on a line a few names back. I had checked out this book years ago. I chuckled to myself. Nice to reminisce.
I picked up another book, and looked at its checkout card, and saw my name. And so it went until I had looked at all the books in the library. I even confirmed it with the librarian who remembered me.
“Yes,” she said, “You, checked out every book in our library.”
If that isn’t a sign I should be a writer, I can’t think of a better one. Or at least that’s how I’m reading it.