On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

I woke up this morning wondering what to write about. The problem with writing in a memoir style is you sometimes forget which stories you’ve told and which ones you haven’t. With Christian’s new book coming out, I thought I might tell you about how his writing career began, but I was pretty sure I had written about the subject before. But the only thing I could find was the post I wrote  when he started his blog with Patheos.com called “Father, Son, and Holy Heretic,” so my subject for the day is Christian’s early writings. If it’s a repeat, smile tolerantly and consider me your crazy Aunt Linda who tells the same stories over and over at the family reunion.

Christian started reading early. When he was four, he read “The Monster at the End of This Book” (with lovable, furry old Grover). At first I thought he was quoting it from memory. Four thousand repetitions will do that for a kid. But his reading repertoire expanded quickly, so I knew it was for real. He liked stories so much that he began writing his own as soon as he could hold a pencil. The first one I remember was about a boy who fell into a large bottle of soda. A giant drank the soda, swallowed the boy, and when he burped, the boy came out in a bubble. The story was complete with color illustrations. As mothers do, I kept it for years, but in one of our moves I packed it along with more of his early papers and sent them to him. If I still had it, I’d probably frame it along with a print-out of his recent article in The Washington Post.

His subsequent writing projects were more ambitious. He wrote a book, the subject of which escapes me at the moment, and bound it using a hole punch and yarn. He had an abundance of material with which to work. Our neighbor was a paper salesman, and when his samples became outdated, he brought them to Christian. There were boxes of all colors, shapes, and sizes of paper that kept my little rug rat busy for hours at a time. All his pursuits weren’t completely intellectual. One day after a long session with the hole punch and a pad of adhesive-backed paper, he appeared in the kitchen with tiny white dots all over his face. In textspeak, I was ROFL!! I was nothing if not a loving, appreciative audience. What else are mothers for? So he continued.

When he was eight, he discovered an old Smith-Corona portable typewriter in a closet and appropriated it as his own. Before long he was producing newspapers complete with school news and cartoons. He continued to write whatever struck his fancy, and when he was sixteen, he wrote Damien’s Tribe, his first novel. Actually, it was a semi-autobiographical work which I realized when I recognized the over-protective mother who woke her son each morning with a cheerful Good morning, Sunshine. It was when I first came face to face with the danger of knowing a writer.

His writing was mostly for his own edification for a while, but then when he moved to Pueblo, Colorado eight years ago he started writing a column for the local paper. That was the real beginning, and the rest is…well, you know. I am still a loving and appreciative audience, but I’ve been joined by countless others who now enjoy his wit, intelligence, and smart-assed writing style. I have more of a vested interest than most of his readers, though. As my only son, he may be called upon to support me one of these days, and I’d prefer something more than a grandma-in-the-attic kind of lifestyle. Write on, Christian!


Comments on: "Christian Piatt, the Early Years | by Linda Brendle" (3)

  1. I’m pretty sure that little homemade hardbound book was a murder mystery called “The Trial of Zeke.” Brilliant, I’m sure. :-/

  2. Yes, keep writing. I may need to move in with your mother in my old age.

    • Mary, I laughed out loud when I read your comment. And you are welcome any time, regardless of where I’m living. After all, we have both lived with you at various times, so it’s only fair!

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