Welcome back to another post in the Monday Inspirations series, where guest bloggers write about the books and authors that have inspired them. Today’s post is by Corina Carrasco. You can check out OTHER Monday Inspirations posts here.
When I was growing up, my parents would sometimes take us kids to the movie theater and drop us off to see the movies (they used to run two with cartoons and previews) then they would come pick us up when the movies were over. One day they dropped us off. There were seven of us however, I was the youngest on that trip because the other two were still too young to let my brothers watch. I was five.
The movie I saw that day made such an impression on me I never forgot it. I could recite lines from it. I felt like I was the little girl in the movie, not just because I was about the same age as the little girl, but because I was filled with wonder and questions of my own, just like the little girl. I also liked her father and wanted him to be my father. I never forgot the movie. Years later, when I was around ten, I found the book in the school library and checked it out and fell in love with the characters all over again. The book was To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Then, when I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher, Mr. Watts, that taught me to love writing. I already loved writing stories but Mr. Watts taught me that just because you write a story it doesn’t mean it is finished. He had us write our story and put it away in our desks then the next week we would take it out and “mark it up” according to what might make it better and then rewrite it. We would turn it in and he would not grade it but he would make his own marks on it and hand them back with suggestions and corrections. Then we would work on our stories again, usually two more rounds. I loved it. He was teaching us to revise and edit our work and to this day, that’s my favorite part of writing!
In high school, I wanted to write but there weren’t any classes where I could write creatively so I took journalism instead. When I was a senior, my older sister began taking college classes and brought her books home. We shared a room so when she decided not to go back to school after less than three months, I pulled out the books that she discarded in the trash. One of those books has stayed with me all these years and was the book that made me want to keep writing and to tell my story and the stories of those around me. The book was not a major work of literature but it was about a boy that had similar feelings and questions to the ones I had.
In the book, Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal, there is a teen boy who is struggling to survive in a home where his immigrant parents don’t understand a life other than working in the fields or in a cannery. That’s what they want him to do in the summers and after he graduates from high school. However, he wants to go on to college because he likes reading and learning. His parents speak Spanish only and think their son is too Anglicized because he prefers to speak English and wants to teach them to speak it too.
This story told me that there were others like me out there. There were people that would read my stories and understand them. I could write about me and not have to write characters that were White, lived in fancy houses, had parents that understood them and encouraged them, went to fancy parties and dances and were accepted by their school mates. This book let me see that I could write about my immigrant parents and my brothers and sisters. I could write the truth about things at home and in my world…and people would read it.
These are the three things that have led me to love writing. I can be authentic and still be interesting as a writer. I’ve written many stories about my family and myself as I was growing up. The early blogging years were my creative writing, all focused on me as a child and the questions that went through my mind as adults went about their business in their world, not really understanding what the kids were going through. I’ve written from the view point of a child for many of those stories. I thank Harper Lee and Jose Antonio Villarreal for being the catalysts.