When I was a kid, we traveled a lot. I’ve seen over half of the continental United States, and even lived in Mexico for awhile. I loved traveling, and one day I told my mom and dad I wanted to be a trucker when I grew up.
I think my mom nearly choked on her coffee. I’ll never forget that look of horror on her face as she turned to me and said, ‘What? Why? You can do so much better than that.’
I have to admit, I was surprised by her reaction. I was about 12 or so and here we were traveling around the country during the 80’s recession, living in our van. The truckers we met were always nice and some of them would give us bags of fruit from their hauls (shh, I think they can get into trouble for that). They were always kind to us, lived in shiny comfortable trucks, and traveled all over the place. I thought, wow, that had to be a great life.
When I got older, the want to be a trucker faded, but I still wanted to travel. I wanted to see new worlds so I started making them up. My first worlds, at the age of about 15, were probably something close to an Anne McCaffery/David Eddings rip off. All I can honestly say I remember from those first scribblings is that the main character’s name was Essess and she hopped from world to world.
I remember giving my mom a bit of it to read. My first critique. Her response, ‘Essess, that’s an odd name.’ I’m not sure if she actually said it or not, but what I heard was, ‘God, what a stupid name, can’t you do better than that?’ I thought it such a strange thing to pick out when reading someone’s story. Tell me you didn’t like the character, or hated the way I wrote something, but a name. Then of course, because I’m self-conscious like that, I thought, well maybe she didn’t like anything about it and picked something tiny because she couldn’t think up something good to say.
I didn’t show her anything else for a long time.
I grew up, had kids but I still wanted to travel. I wanted to travel the stars, I wanted make my own worlds. Lucky for me, I became I writer. I could never really travel the stars, but I could make them up. I could pretend there were worlds within the this one that were unseen.
I didn’t become a trucker, but damn it, I’m still a traveler and its a damn fun ride.