Mike on Mike: Early Influences


I spoke (briefly) in my last post about my parents reading to me when I was a child. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize the impact that they had on me through their story telling.

My mother was an avid reader, and I have always been exposed to a book-centric home because of it. My dad, however, did not read AS much (since english was not his first language).

Despite the lack of reading, though, my dad was an equally powerful influence to me as a child. I remember waking up early in the morning, and curling into bed with my father. He would hold me close, and with an accent, set the scene in my ear. I would close my eyes and envision the world he would form for me- the tall castle, the wind, the snow, the boy (who was always me) and the wolves. He would use sound softly but powerfully, and I was immersed in the world he had created almost instantly.

Those stories were a staple, and created a gothic landscape that the emotional impact of his stories is something I always try to echo in my own writing. Those moments were, and continue to be, a major influence to me as a writer.

In addition to dad’s story telling, I was gathering additional praise at school. I don’t remember much of significant in 3rd grade – I know I had caught my 3rd grade teacher’s attention because I had written a short story about a snow day involving my pediatrician (who had been her pediatrician). However, in 4th grade, my teacher, Ms. Gerard, had noticed my enjoyment for words, and took upon herself to develop and challenge me.

She had me write lengthy essays about the books we read, and she taught me how to use commas, semi colons, and periods properly in my sentences. She taught me how to separate ideas through paragraphs, and how to hide my opinion about a book through a balanced perspective that took a wider range of perspective into account.

That was the first time I considered myself different from my peers-  I was shuffled off into a corner, re-writing my essay to “make it stronger” long after my classmates had moved on. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the emphasis Ms. Gerard put towards my essay writing and thought process would pay off years later.

She was instilling a sense of consciousness in me that would make me an observant and introspective reader, which would both help and hinder me in later years.