Most of this is surprisingly true.
As a toddler I was prone to bouts of geophagy, but I was able to correct this with a love of chocolate. I grew up in The Heart of the Screenland, California, and was known at an early age for my skills as a puppeteer. In kindergarten I kissed a girl and made her cry. I told people that when I grew up I wanted to be a swimming pool builder.
I took third place in my division of the National Dental Association’s Dental Health Poster Contest when I was 11 years old. I drew a picture of a monster inspired by Sesame Street and Mad Magazine with the caption “Don’t Let Me Get Into Your Mouth!” I was awarded a Saulsbury Steak luncheon for winners at a fancy hall at UCLA and a bumper sticker for “Operation Applebrush.” It was a gyp.
In fifth and sixth grade my friend Marc and I published a book of illustrated puns. “This Book Is Not Very Punny” was it’s title. I was also fond of making impossibly difficult word search puzzles, acquired a taste for Cat Stevens and Dr. Demento simultaneously, and declared I would grow up to be an animator for Disney. My favorite smell was the bracing alcohol fumes of damp and freshly printed ditto sheets.
In junior high I was suspended for calling my teacher an illegitimate child, though that wasn’t how I said it. I had been singled out for talking and made to stand outside the classroom door for most of the period. I had assumed it would only be for a few minutes and didn’t bring a jacket with me. It was raining. And other kids were talking so much that the teacher had to yell for them to be quiet. I could hear all this outside. I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment to be forced to stand outside under a small awning on a rainy day for behavior other kids were not punished for. And so I said something that the Vice Principal felt I should be suspended for.
A few years later I was learning photography, writing parodies of famous poems, and drawing comics with flying, flaming eyeballs terrorizing cities of chocolate chips. I also fell in with an older crowd of high school kids who were into making silent movies. I was featured in an adaptation of Macbeth as one of the witches and Lady Macbeth. I declared I would grow up and make real movies, since I didn’t have the patience for animation.
In high school I joined the newspaper staff and helped edit the literary journal. I also worked on the yearbook as a photographer for three years. I was part of the cross country team for a while. I was also one of the original members of the Filmmaker’s Club. I also got a part-time job working in a movie theater. I was very busy in high school, mostly because things weren’t going so well at home. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to graduate high school. Sometimes I still dream that I’m back in high school and things are going all wrong. I am told this is common.
I made it to college where I studied film but realized I loved books and printmaking more. I went back to school and became a teacher. I taught mostly in public middle schools, Art and English. I stopped being creative, even when I was teaching Art, so I stopped teaching and started writing instead.
I wrote screenplays mostly. While I was learning how, I worked at a local community radio station and became a music DJ. I also reviewed movies. I also wrote Public Service Announcements, hundreds of them. I kept coming up with stories about kids that just didn’t work as movies for some reason. After ten years of writing, and trying to write, I felt like I needed a change. I quit my job and traveled in Europe.
I came back to the United States when I realized that what I wanted to do – really wanted more than anything I’d ever wanted to do before – was write for children and young adults. I worked in bookstores and studied books carefully. Then I discovered there was actually a school specifically for writing for children and young adults! It didn’t seem possible that I would get there, but eventually I did. And I graduated. And now…
Well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten with my life.
There’s a lot I left out, but that’s the gist of it. And actually, it’s all true.
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