It was a pleasure to burn.

For once, I’m not going to talk about naked men, sex, orgasms, or anything of the like.

What I want to talk about today is what inspired me to be a writer in the first place. It was a one-two combination punch, an uppercut to the jaw and a fist to the chest, and I was down for the count, bell rung and finished. I didn’t see it coming, of course, and it was at a perfect time in my life, when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or my future. I was seventeen, fresh out of high school, and had only recently gotten up the nerve to tell my mother that I wasn’t going to be a chef just because she’d decided I should. All I had was community college, my boyfriend, and the silly stories I wrote for a handful of people.

It all started with a book.

A borrowed copy of Fahrenheit 451, to be exact, read over a torturous weekend trip with the family. I’ve read it three or four times since, and every time, I find something new, some new level that I missed, but there’s always that core that attracted me to begin with. That passion about books just gripped me, and I wondered what it would be like to make something that inspired so much feeling.

That one book set off a love affair with Bradbury’s works that had me buying more, haunting the library like the ghost of geeks past, devouring his works like the book nerd I’ve always been. And then. And then the second punch.

Bradbury again. This time it was a short story, “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.” I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t read it, because the important part is how completely I was drawn in by the characters, how twisted up in the moment I became, and how much I found myself identifying with a very messed up individual. By the time I finished it, I felt like I’d read a whole novel, it was that perfect, that complete.

So I set the book down. Looked at it. Said, “I want to write like that. Damn, that’s going to take a lot of work.”

Fifteen years later and I’m still working on it. But damned it every time I pick up a Bradbury book, I’m not inspired all over again.

What about you? Do you remember what inspired you to become a writer?


Elizabeth Silver is a writer, a nerd, and an international woman of mystery. Find her on Twitter as @LizSilverWrites or on her own web site at UrbanSilver.net.

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