I was reading DIYMFA by Gabriela Perreira this week, and in one of the chapters, she talks about writers’ “zero moment.” The moment before a blogger’s first follower, before a writer’s first sold book or review, before you’re cast into the public limelight and no longer have anonymity to hide behind.
However, I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach in this topic here.
The Writing Bug
I wrote a story when I was five or six called “The Worst Summer Ever.” It was four sentences, written on 5″ x 5″ pieces of paper for tracing triangles, squares, other geometric shapes with stencils. And as you can imagine, it was no Pulitzer-winner. But it had characters (albeit they were versions of my best friends at the time), tension (in the form of heat getting to 1,000 degrees in the summer), a resolution (where everything turned out fine the next day), and even my own kid-drawing illustrations.
The writing bug was in me. But I didn’t fully accept becoming a writer/author until third grade.
The Golden Paperback
When fellow classmates of mine were reading the Harry Potter series, I was reading Artemis Fowl by Eoin (pronounced like “Owen”) Colfer. A good friend of mine had brought the book to school one day and let me borrow it from her.
And before I knew it, I was hooked.
To this day, it’s still one of my favorite books of all time — partially due to sentimentality, but also due to its literary merit from a craft standpoint. I mean, I have memorized the first two lines of the prologue because they’re such a great example of an opening hook:
How does one describe Artemis Fowl? Various psychiatrists have tried and failed. –
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Doesn’t that just make you want to read more? Doesn’t that pull you in and make you want to know how the titular protagonist, a twelve-year-old boy genius, baffles psychiatrists? Doesn’t that make you want to read the rest of the book and see what other witty one-two punches Colfer has in store? I might do a full-blown review at some point to assess its literary merit using my newfound knowledge of the craft of writing, but seriously. If you want an example of a great hook, there you go.
By the time I finished Artemis Fowl, I don’t remember exactly what I told my friend who lent me the book, but I’m pretty sure it was, “I want to write like that!” At that point, I knew what I wanted to be.
I wanted to be a novelist and write novels like Eoin Colfer. So much so that on weekends, I sat at my computer and wrote whatever ideas came to my head. Talking horses? You got it. Magical candy canes? No problem. Artemis Fowl fanfiction?
….Yeah, but, come on. I was nine. I was young and foolish. It was bound to happen.
But I think right there was the birth of my “zero moment.” I said to myself that I’d become a writer no matter what. I had no followers, no real substantive stories or writing craft knowledge to my name.
Just a fire that is still lit to this day.
On this blog, I have a Bucket List, a list of items I’d like to accomplish before I leave this world/reincarnate/die/turn into a skeleton, or whatever people happen to believe. One of the items on that list involves writing “a letter to Eoin Colfer thanking him for inspiring me to become a writer,” and sending him a copy of my first published novel. I don’t mind if he doesn’t read my novel; I just want him to know that he inspired me to create it and finish it as a fellow writer.
And now, I’d like to hear from you, dear readers.
What’s your “zero moment”?
What is the moment that made you who you are today? What’s the moment that made you decide what you what to do for the rest of your life? What is the moment where you started from nothing?
Tell me in the comments below or via the Contact form on the Contact page. I promise to read each one.