It All Started with a Plumber
When I was a child, I traveled on a pirate ship, saved princesses older than I was, journeyed through a dense jungle, and practiced counting with Ernie from Sesame Street—all in my living room. I achieved these feats thanks to my family’s Nintendo Entertainment System; I also thank my father because he was the only one at the time (before my sisters came along) who played video games.
When I was about three years old, I watched my dad play a Super Mario Bros. game, and he handed the controller to me after seeing my mystified expression. I ran into the enemies most of the time, but I did not care: I was the director of some virtual movie. I was in control of a story. The positive reinforcement of a happy king jumping up and down because I had thwarted a curse that had been placed upon him encouraged me to continue playing through the levels of the game, and the quirky, whimsical storyline—a pudgy plumber battles turtles, mushroom-shaped creatures, and assorted other minions of a giant dragon-tortoise hybrid in order to rescue a princess named Toadstool—enchanted me. I begged my dad to show me the other Nintendo games we owned, and he happily obliged. Every time I watched him play a game or played one myself, I felt as though I had somehow slipped outside of reality and into a world where anything was possible.
I did not limit myself to the blossoming technology in entertainment; I also enjoyed coloring, drawing, reading, playing outside with my toys and dolls, and other common childhood activities. Reading was one of my preferred ways to spend my time. My favorite books were picture books, but the illustrations had to be aesthetically pleasing to me. I preferred making up my own story as I looked through a book; I would look at the pictures and speak out my story as it came to me. I did not struggle with the words that the author had provided; I simply felt that the writing intruded on my imagination. I rarely changed the characters’ names or the plot; in fact, I often revisited the same books and simply added to the story. I eventually took this practice to my video game time. I did not start audibly narrating my plots until I was in elementary school and had begun playing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I remember playing Donkey Kong Country 2 as Dixie Kong and doing improvised voice acting in my living room, much to the amusement of my mother.
My love for creating soon spread to other outlets. When I was in second grade, my classmates and I had to keep journals. We could draw or write stories, and I would come up with random plots about vegetables, princesses, my weekend activities, and whatever we were learning in class (with a few misspellings, of course). I even illustrated my “people” with smiles on their faces, as though they were so thankful I had brought them into the world. To me, my stories were incomplete unless I had drawn, to the best of my ability, the characters and settings. I wanted anyone who happened to pick up my journal to have an idea of what I envisioned in my mind.
My turning point with reading and writing came to fruition in third grade. My language arts teacher placed heavy emphasis on story time breaks and writing assignments. Our prime exercise was choosing a picture from a folder and then writing something about the picture. I wrote short stories about picking berries, playing with cats, sitting on the front porch at my house, and even meeting the people in the pictures. I also wrote spin-offs of the stories we read in class, keeping the characters’ names and simply changing the plot. My teacher was impressed especially with my continuation of a story we had read about a little Asian goose girl; I gave her a new adventure that made her climb mountains, explore a forest, and find a new home among animals. She openly praised my original story and encouraged me to continue writing creatively.
From then on, writing was my addiction. I would finish my homework after school and then take out loose-leaf papers to begin writing. I loved illustrating my characters and writing adventures for them; I often kept the same characters and simply wrote new stories for them (one must be able to deduce now that I have always been a sentimental person). Up until I was in middle-school, I would also continue to narrate video games aloud in the living room—I think I stopped because I grew self-conscious and felt silly. My greatest accomplishment during that period was hand-writing a story and illustrating it until page two-hundred twenty-two.
Writing, a pastime I have enjoyed for over two decades, has extended across various avenues: technical writing for proposals, marketing copy and social media content, freelance feature articles for local magazines, and research articles for journals and encyclopedias. Each discipline, though different in its content and focus, demands the same skills: detail, meticulous grammar, awareness of audience, brevity, and consistency.
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