World news and individual biographies made me want to be a journalist. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith influenced me to write fiction stories.
This story is about a family in the first two decades of the 20th century living in Brooklyn. 11-year-old Francie Nolan is introduced, who relies on dreams and imaginations to escape from the world she lives in. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn discusses the struggles and hardships of the Nolan family, but also the family’s ability to overcome adversity and find happiness. By the end of the novel, Francie is almost 17.
Before reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, I resorted to books in replacement of friends and emotions, telling myself I didn’t have time for them any ways. Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye) was my ideal boyfriend; Lizbeth Salander (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) was my ideal best friend; author George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) understood what I really thought of governments around the world but couldn’t say out loud without offending a patriot; novels by Jane Austin made want to fall in love, and thanks to Nelson Mandela’s autobiography (Long Walk to Freedom), I found out he was born on my birthday! When I read any book, I will talk as if the characters are real. We become friends, grieving together at our frustrations and rejoicing after the climax is over. The best part is, if I miss one of the characters, I can always reread a novel and re-experience their friendship. I will never be lonely.
But I have never related to any individual fiction character as I did to Francie Nolan. I saw so much of my myself in Francie, and how we both make stories up, whether the stories are to keep ourselves busy, memorize math equations, or because we were bored with real life. It was Francie Nolan who made me realize there was nothing wrong with resorting to books and imagination when I wasn’t content with everything or anyone else.
The relation I had to Francie impacted how I viewed authors as well. Were they too detached from the real world, and simply incorporated their imagination and dreams on paper? Or were they just lonely and invented a friend?
How amazing would it be to have an adult career that didn’t involve phony suits or tedious business meetings, and instead be able incorporate my daydreams into words and share them with the world. What if my words affected someone, like the Francie Nolan affected me?
Writers are lucky, because they don’t just have a job; they have relationships to their characters.