By Guest Author, Jenny Margotta
I am a writer. I have been writing since I could hold a pencil in my small, chubby hand.
As a child, I was fascinated with writing stories about Indians and early American
colonists. Later I added school papers, work-related technical articles, political opinion
pieces and more to my growing stack of fiction efforts. And along the way I added
editing others’ works to writing my own.
Two questions have been posed to me over and over for nearly as long as I have been
writing. Why do I write? What inspired me to begin writing?
I’ll answer the easy one: reading inspired me to write. I don’t think you can truly call
yourself a writer if you do not also read. I have been reading voraciously since the age
of 3. One particular book remains in my mind, although I read it well over 50 years ago.
The Day Must Dawn by Agnes Sligh Turnbull. It was the first book I read in the adult
section of our public library. I was in 4th grade and I remember the librarian making a
huge fuss that I wasn’t old enough to check out adult books. My mother, never one to
accept ‘no’ from anyone, proceeded to tell her I’d read everything of any interest in the
children’s section and I would most certainly be moving to the adult section.
The book had a fairly standard colonial-pioneers-on-the-frontier-facing-hostile-Indians
plot, which is why I initially wanted to read it. But as I read, I became enthralled with
the author’s descriptive phrases. One about the sun shining in the overcast sky like a
polished pewter plate has stayed with me all these years. When I read that phrase as a
9-year-old, I thought, I want to write like that. I wanted to be able to describe the world in
ways that people would remember for years and years to come.
I don’t know whether I’ve reached my goal yet, but I keep trying. And I keep reading. I
read for the stories, themselves, of course but, also, always hoping to discover another
author who will delight me with imaginative, innovative words to add to my store of
unique and memorable descriptions.
I recently reread The Day Must Dawn, by the way. I had long remembered that book
as a huge, weighty thing – on a par with Michener’s ‘let’s-start-with-the-beginning-of-time’ massive
efforts. The paperback edition I picked up was just 304 pages. Maybe
the hardcover was bigger. Or maybe I just remember things as they should have been.
Whatever the truth of the memory, I know one thing. A part of me these many years
later is still that 9-year-old delighting in discovering a huge, untapped store of books to
I continue to write. And I continue to read.
Jenny is a member of the High Desert Branch California Writers Club.
Jenny Margotta and the late John Margotta authored the Some Like It Hot! cookbook.