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Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh became the model for my writing aspirations around age 10, down to the notebook and the spying - in my case, from behind bushes and up in a tree, making observations and taking notes about unsuspecting passersby.  One of my great regrets is that I don't still have those early notebooks, though I did begin keeping a journal in high school and have kept one faithfully ever since.

I chose a pen name for my first creative writing class in fifth grade: Xavier Gadfry.

Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien - Little, Big John Crowley - The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame - Brave New World Aldous Huxley - 1984 George Orwell - The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood - To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee - The God of Ecstasy Arthur Evans - The Ladies Doris Grumbach - Less Andrew Sean Greer - The House of Life Mario Praz - Green Thoughts Eleanor Perényi - Death in Venice Thomas Mann

Virginia Woolf
John Fante
Roberto Bolaño
Roald Dahl
Edward Gorey

(Yes, I do have rather antique taste in books.)
I got serious about reading at about the age of 9, when one summer vacation I decided to read every book in the library, in order (an early clue that something was a bit off with me.) I got about half way through the first shelf, and was hooked.

Young reader favorites:

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet Eleanor Cameron - The Westing Game Ellen Raskin - The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler E. L. Konigsburg - The Egypt Game Zilpha Keatley Snyder  - Call It Courage Armstrong Sperry - Encyclopedia Brown Donald J. Sobol - The Great Brain John Dennis Fitzgerald - The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson - Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
A limerick based on the The Mad Scientists' Club.

"The Monster of Strawberry Lake"

The monster of Strawberry Lake
Looks very much like a drake.
He eats people whole,
But first cooks them in coal;
That's only because he can't bake.
"Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist."
- Jane Smiley, author of A Thousand Acres

My best advice to an aspiring writer is to buy, borrow or steal every book of writing advice you can get your hands on and read them over and over. Every single one* is going to have some little idea, piece of advice, trick, or way of framing the process that will help you get better.

And the only other thing every successful writer says:

Keep writing! Failure only happens when you give up.

*Except for The Art of Fiction by John Gardner (it's terrible.)


I can't imagine a more difficult, challenging, or interesting vocation than creating a story, a narrative world, out of literally no tangible thing, just a thought, an idea.

Yes, people do this in science and all sorts of fields, but rarely does the rank and file, the average person, have the opportunity to enact this great generative process, this creation.

Art, writing, is a frontier we may never exhaust, and it is readily available to anyone, anywhere, with little to no equipment or capital required. It's endlessly fascinating, and yes, magical.
Keep a journal, nothing fancy required.
Good advice for life and for writing.