My childhood taught me to lie.
My mother was a strict, radically right-wing conservative Christian. Every aspect of my life was censored. She would go through any book I read first with a sharpie. Once edited, I was able to read it. That even went for our collection of encyclopedias. If there was a naked statue, he got a sharpie toga. If there was an article she disagreed with, it got blacked out.
As a result, I hid everything from her. I liked things she didn’t approve of and rather than obeying, I rebelled.
I was isolated and alone, with only my brother for company most of the time. We were both homeschooled and knew little about “normal” life or anything outside our home in the mountains and our weekly visits to church.
I constantly struggled against the isolation. I wasn’t content with living that way, and I wanted to be my own person even before I entered my teenage years, when most kids rebel.
I found myself in fiction. I read everything I could get my hands on as a child. There was little variety, and most of what I read were the classics, but I read it all anyway. My brother and I weren’t allowed to watch much TV, especially not shows that talked about evolution or a universe with a great “mystical Force” that guided everyone and wasn’t God.
That ruled out Star Trek and Star Wars, so naturally those formed the core of my fictional foundation.
Science fiction is about the struggle to be the best humanity can be. To learn and grow and discover and invent. It’s about what it means to be alive, what our purpose is in the vastness of the universe.
Fantasy is about the struggle against the darkness, both within and in the world around. It’s about the light versus the dark.
Both genres explore the idea of morality.
When I was hidden away in the basement of my childhood home in the middle of the night, watching Star Trek: The Next Generation while my parents slept, I wasn’t dissecting the patterns of storytelling in science fiction. I was caught up in the story of people. I didn’t realize that the original Star Wars movies fit more into fantasy than science fiction, and I didn’t care anyway.
What else did my childhood teach me?
It taught me to write. My notebook and a pen went everywhere with me. I still struggle to find out when that all started, but I wasn’t older than 9. Maybe younger.
Characters were my friends during my childhood. That’s what made me write. I still write for my characters. The stories that I have inside are ones that only I can write.
I guess when it all comes down to it, if there’s one lesson to learn from my life–and it’s one I still struggle with–it’s that I’m where I am because of where I’ve been. Dwelling on the negatives does nothing but breed anger and bitterness. I am a writer because of my childhood. I wouldn’t trade that away, even if it meant going back and having a completely different life. It’s not worth it.