How the Backwoods Births an Author

From here?!

Author...

Hollywood's idea of backwood/country people

When someone visualizes an author, they normally don’t think of someone from the boondocks–at least nowadays. Most of the time an author is someone from the city or the very least the suburbs. Most people visualize people from the boondocks in a different way, definitely Hollywood–they have a way to bring out the stereotype. Most of the time we backwood people are viewed as dumb rednecks with a fifth grade education at best, teeth missing, and people sit on their front porch with their shotguns with a mean look on their face with the attack dog and working on a chaw who spits before they speak. Well, I have all my teeth, abhor smokeless tobacco, I have a bachelor’s degree, had a good education, but we do have guns and a dog, but that’s for our hunting activities and to kill the rattlesnakes (they can bite you without thinking twice if you startle them or step on them and send you to the hospital), coyotes, bobcats, and other dangerous trespassers that come too close to home, and the dog is our alarm system and our pal.

I'm a tomboy

Growing up, I had a secluded life. Dad was always at work trying to provide for me and my mom. Dad and still had our times together, and I was the “son” he never had–he took me fishing, hunting, and taught me how to raise a garden. The small town we lived in had an odd sort of people; they weren’t friendly and judged you for what you had not who you were. My parents were young and pretty poor. We had some family there who would come see us sometimes, and we had a neighbor who was our friends on either side, no one lived behind us because of the steep hill that led down to the river, and that’s where Dad and me or the three of us fished, and we went swimming with snakes and all. One neighbor had an older son I could play with sometimes. Sometime later we met our neighbors across the street who also had a son. Growing up around boys made me a tomboy which I still am today. When my dad was at work, mom was in the house working, or the neighbors didn’t come to play, I was on my own which was most of the time. I had about a hundred acres of playground in the woods and in the backyard. I had to make up my own friends and my own world in the woods and in the backyard; I could do this because I had a powerful imagination at such a young age. Not much changed when I went to school. I made a couple friends, but I was rarely invited over to spend the night or to a party. I was a bit different from the other kids because I was reclusive, smart, and imaginative,  so I got picked at a lot, and I was already seclusive, so that made me that much more seclusive and I drew into myself. I didn’t like to play with girls that much–they were not what I was used to and they didn’t like to get dirty, play rough, play with action figures and dinosaurs, or play the games I like to play, but I felt like I had to because of the socialization of the school. House, jump rope, cheerleading, Barbie, and that stuff was bor-ring! If I did play with Barbie (which was rare), they were beating up each other or were giants in my playworld–oh, let’s not forget the drama–ugh. Girls seem to live on it. I had to play anyway because I couldn’t play with the boys all the time when they got at the age where they would start teasing to flirt–I found that annoying. I viewed boys as playmates and not dates, and I couldn’t find it any other way. One of the girls loved video games which I was able to connect with because I loved them too. I would play them when it was raining, too hot, or dark outside. The cold didn’t matter. I would leave with a coat on and come back with it off because I was so active I would get hot.

From here

To here

In about fifth grade we leave this little town and our little river haven to the other side of the state. It was hard for me; I was really attached to that place. I still dream about it even today, but we find us another backwood haven at the Floyd and Bartow County line. My pretend friends and all my action figures and dinosaurs come along and made us a new world. In this new town people were a lot friendlier, and I met my first true best friend, Jennifer, and a small group of friends. I finally had someone to spend weekends with and talk on the phone with. I finally had “belonging” to go with my other world. In 7th grade I was split from my group and couldn’t eat with them at lunch so I had to eat  lunch solo and people-watch, but I could talk about my day to my parents and to my friend on the phone when I got home. This sadly came to an end.

alone

We move to the center of the state to the suburbs. My parents bought a house in a subdivision! I hated the house as soon as I we drove up to look at it before they bought it. There were no woods, and we had an acre lot! I was also not used to seeing the neighbor’s house from my bedroom window, and we had them on all sides plus others. My prior playgrounds were 100-100+ acres, so it was like putting me into a pen. No dirt roads to ride my bike, but when we first moved there there was hardly any traffic, so I rode on the community road. I even went across the road into the woods. When Georgia became flooded with newcomers this area grew up fast, and the surrounding woods began to vanish, and it wasn’t rural anymore. Also my experiences at school were numbing and disappointing, so I was back being alone. I feel this experience was much worse than my childhood experience, and I missed my friend so much, and I was so lonely. People made fun of my accent because I was very country and most of them were city people. One time it got so bad I stopped talking and wrote notes if someone asked me a question and didn’t bother to talk to anyone. Someone asked me why I wasn’t talking and I told them “People make fun of my accent, so I got sick and tired of it so I quit talking!” That stopped because someone must have said something on my behalf or my defense was so drastic. Girls were mean to me because a boy would come talk to me as a friend. I still connected with them better than girls, but I was getting asked out, but I like the boys as friends, not anything else. I got picked on for that and people tried to start rumors that I was gay. I was not, and I got very angry and defensive and I became even more reclusive, and sometimes I think some of the culprits were  pitching a fit because they couldn’t get their way so that made me like them less. This was middle school. High school was a little bit better, but I never found my belonging, and the girls were cattier and more drama galore. Their boyfriends would just be my friends and come talk to me and they would be so mean to me when I did nothing and the guy came and talked to me! Sometimes all they said was “hi”. “Ugh! Girls suck!” I thought back then. I was so quiet that someone wouldn’t know I was there and start making out as I am putting my instrument away. Grossed out, I make a hasty exit. Clicks were everywhere too. I never fit in, but I did have “friends”. Even my church youth group had clicks, and our youth pastor had even talked about it and tried to get rid of the “us four and no more mentality”, but no avail. I was “friends” with everybody, but I felt I was wandering around with no belonging. Here again I was hardly invited to people’s houses, I was hardly ever included in anything, and oftentimes when I tried to reach out I was shrugged off.  I stopped reaching out and went my own way and would come to something if I was invited–I never invited myself or bothered asking to go anywhere. To cope with the emptiness I buried myself in homework, band practice, reading, and playtime, but playtime had to end because of my age. Mom would get onto me because teenagers don’t play with toys and what would people say, (I could have argued that Tutankhamen played with toys as a teen and as a “man”, but bad example that wouldn’t fly today). I could get away with playtime when my 8 year old cousin came around and I introduced her to my fantasy world.  She loved it and she became an outlet for me that I had needed for so long. One time she even said that it would be cool if this world became a movie. “Yeah right” I thought.

Take me fishing

In high school you’ve basically have covered much of the mechanics of writing and I had read many books. Since I couldn’t play anymore and I wanted to return to my fantasy worlds, but I had to do it in a different way. Why not write a book about it? So I did. From reading books I knew how to set up a dialog, setting and, characters, and I worked with my high school grammar rules too. I was 16 and still in high school. This outlet consumed the remaining time I had, and writing a book actually seemed so easy after I started it; I thought it would be so hard. The ideas just poured out and I combined my fantasy worlds together for this book. This book birthed more ideas for a saga. More ideas came from when my cousin and I was  making and acting out stories. From these stories, more characters were born, and other worlds came into being. My problems seemed to melt away and instead of thinking about my unhappiness, I was now thinking about what I was going to write next after I did my  homework. My lonely time now had meaning like never before. My lonely summers became almost uninterrupted writing time after I went swimming at my grandparents’, saw my cousin, or my friend from my other town came to stay, or played a video game. When my cousin became a teen she became boring, but I took what we had made together and kept it alive in my writings including a character she created who was too awesome to let die. On a different note, for Christmas on my freshman year my parents got me a typewriter. I wrote a short  screenplay about some guys at school. I even wrote a journal about one guy who went completely “psycho” on me, but that was before I came up with the idea of writing a book, but it may had led up to it.

Old computer

This carried on after graduation and my first steps into the workforce. I would brainstorm on the job and after resting go dump it into the computer. I had to use my parents’ old, decrepit computer they bought from other grandparents till I bought my own before college. I would keep them up at night because the computer was in their room from the screen glow and my fingers hammering away on the keyboard in school and when I went to work. The workforce helped  bring me out of my shell somewhat because I was “forced” to talk to people. People were finally wanting to get to know me in a true way, but I never talked about my stories. No one knew in high school except family. Even still, the feelings of being accepted by others feels good but feels foreign at the same time. My college years were wonderful and people were not judgmental. I had good friends there. My college workload and my work kept me away from my stories for a little while, but I’m back in them full blast. During my college years I met my husband through my  father. From much time and other hardships I left the suburbs and returned to the backwoods, but I still go back from time to time to visit.

A writer

My road to being a writer was a pretty painful road, but instead of throwing a pity party I did something constructive. Instead of getting into fights or wanting to shoot people I decided to become a writer. I was always deep and brooding child and I always would think. The scope of the depth of my thought was asking my mother if fish drank water at four years old–of course she didn’t know; I didn’t find the answer to that till I was in college biology–to answer that is “yes they do”, and it is very important for their life and electrolyte balance which would be the answer to what I would have asked next which would be “Why?”. Kids with powerful  imagination and such deep thoughts also go against the grain and the ones who stand out are in open season for ridicule. Family who still  lives in the small town I came from tell me what happened to some of my classmates. It’s shameful and no wonder I didn’t fit in. The same holds true for my abusers from high school and middle school who do similar stuff. The youth group snobs fell by the wayside and no longer go to church anywhere. I have found people I went to school with on Facebook and say they feel sorry for the way I was treated in school. I didn’t know anyone noticed or cared–little do they know that was almost normal for me and I sort of accepted it. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I coped as best I could.

I graduated from writer to author in my 20’s, but that’s another story. I am still a young author by any means.

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About AK Taylor

Award winning YA author who began writing novels at 16. I enjoy outdoor activities, beekeeping, rock collecting, coin collecting, writing, drawing. Book Website: www.neikos5landadventure.net Twitter: @A_K_Taylor Facebook: Amanda Haulk Taylor/A.K. Taylor's Books page
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