Samantha Brinn Merel : My Writer Roots Are in My Reader’s Soul

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When I was home for Thanksgiving last November, I found my old journals. Seven of them, filled from cover to cover, documenting my comings and goings from sixth grade all the way through my junior year of college.

I was surprised because the truth is, while I remember keeping journals sporadically, I don’t remember being compulsive about it.

But apparently I was.

Words have been a part of my life for nearly all of my 30 years. The way my mom tells it, I was talking in complete sentences by my first birthday. Since I was her first, it never really occurred to her that it wasn’t normal for a one-year-old to be able to carry on conversations like an adult. But I did.

I think that, as is often the case, along with my freakishly early grasp of the English language, my writer’s roots are found in my reader’s soul.

I read early, and I read often. At first it was with my mom and dad. I would sit in their laps and listen as they read to me. As my sisters came along they joined the nightly tradition, until there were five of us cuddled, night after night, in my parents’ big bed, sharing books, stories and words.

And when I learned to read (or, rather, taught myself how to read), I would lay by myself for hours, surrounded by books. I made friends with the Baby Sitter’s Club, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, grew up with Judy Blume’s incomparable female characters, and joined Jessica and Elizabeth in Sweet Valley.

I read before school, after school, during recess, and when I could manage it, during class when I probably should’ve been paying attention to things like math and science.

But math and science were never for me.

For me, it was words and it was stories.

I never took a math or a science class after eleventh grade, but I took advanced English classes where I read classics from Dickens to Austen to Kate Chopin, immersed myself in the three books of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and learned how to read with a critical eye and an open mind.

And when I wasn’t reading books for school, I was reading books for me. My bookshelves at home overflowed with the romance novels I’d discovered during my junior year of high school and read voraciously.

All through college and law school it was those romance novels that I turned to when I needed a break from textbooks and professors. The stories were a balm to my introverted soul during those amazing and turbulent years.

Once the textbooks were closed and the bar was passed and my full-time job began, I decided to write a book of my own. So I put pen to paper, and I started to plan. While my mind spun characters and stories faster than I could get everything on paper, the actual writing of the book proved much harder than I thought it would be.

I needed to stretch my writer’s muscles before I dove in again, so last year, continuing in the tradition of those seven journals that now live on the shelves in my bedroom, my blog was born. It seemed that before I could write someone else’s story, I had to learn how to write my own.

And learn I have.

Each day I sit at my computer and write. Sometimes the words are good and sometimes they’re awful, but they are words, and they’re mine. My way of sharing pieces of my heart and soul with the world. With myself.

Little by little over the past year, I’ve found my voice.

And that voice, as it turns out, has quite a bit to say.

There are stories inside of me waiting to be told.

And I am going to write them.

 

About Samantha:

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Samantha is a lawyer, runner and pop-culture junkie living in the suburbs of New York City. She drags herself out of bed to run at dawn, does all her writing at work, and spends her nights in front of the TV with her equally television-addicted husband. 

 

Samantha’s Blog :

This Heart of Mine - http://samanthabmerel.blogspot.com/

Find her on Twitter - https://twitter.com/sbrinnmerel

Find her on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/samantha.brinn

 

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  • Mary @ A Teachable Mom

    I adore Samantha! Great choice, Erin!

    Beautiful piece, Samantha. I’m grateful you’ve found your voice and are sharing it with all of us. I’ve also always been a voracious reader of all things from newspapers to mysteries to literature and everything in between. Here’s to words and stories – yours, mine and ours. Great choice, Erin!

  • Vinobaby

    Love how you write how reading is a balm for your introverted soul. I am the same way. I’ve often wondered if extroverts feel the same way since we take from books instead of giving.

    Keep testing out that voice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samantha.brinn Samantha Brinn Merel

    Thanks so much for posting this Erin! I love thinking about how we get to where we are, and the journey always fascinates me as much as, or more than, the destination. Good luck in the snowstorm!

  • http://twitter.com/kristintwoeyes Kristin

    Your voice is always so pleasant to read, Samantha. I also love to read, but have let my children be my excuse for not reading as much as a “writer” should. Though, I am an extrovert. What do we think? Must you read to write? How does it benefit our writing? How does reading limit us?

  • IASoupMama

    I must read, too. All the time. Words everywhere. Its the only way my mind works.

  • http://www.living-authentically.com Bill-The Authentic Life

    I envy you Samantha. I always wanted to write, but could not until just a few years ago. I so feel like I am playing catch up. No journals from my childhood and now I have to try and remember what I did not write down. Congratulations on your one year blog anniversary!

  • Outlaw mama

    Samantha, you are my favorite prodigy. So happy to hear more about your roots.

  • Christie @ Random Reflectionz

    I’ve had a similar experience to Bill – I didn’t start writing until recently and I wish I had devoted more of my education to learning the skills of writing. I am with you on the reading thing though. I’ve always been an avid reading and I really do think that being an active and engaged reader makes me a better writer. Congrats on the one year anniversary.

  • http://twitter.com/XAMaldonado Xiomara

    Love the story of your writing journey.

  • http://twitter.com/ashleyaustrew Ashley Austrew

    Love this post! I was just like you as a kid–I read CONSTANTLY! Thank God for the internet and blogging and finding our voices and like-minded people. It’s a great time to be a word nerd. haha

  • michellelongo

    This is such a great look at your past and how you got where you are. I loved to read, too. It’s amazing how book can transform us.