I am sort of continuing a series of writerly explorations with this post, a series I began weeks ago with questions about "moral fiction" and continued with the questions about portrayals of minority-status characters and characters who are not part of our own social groups. Today it's less social and more personal, and I am wondering about our early experiences with writing. Specifically, I'd love it if you could all think for a minute and then in the comments tell me what was the first book you ever read that you wish you had written.
Maybe I'm alone in this experience, but there was a moment in time when I had finished a book and I imagined myself as the author of that specific book because it seemed like it had been written just for me and it seemed like something I myself could have written. Granted, when I was very young, in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my brothers and I would make up little comic books (they call them "chapbooks" these days) that were just folded sheets of paper with a staple in the spine and write our names on the front covers and pretend we were authors.
But those moments didn't have as large an impact on me as did the time I read Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. "This is a great book," I said to myself. "I understand what she was doing, and how she did it, and I get it and gosh, but I could have written it!" And, sad to say, when I began to write my first novel about six months later, I was writing very much a rip-off of Wise Blood. Still. The moment pushed me past the "it would be cool to be a novelist" stage into the "I could write a novel" stage. Which stage I haven't left.
Anybody have a similar story they wish to share? Because I want to hear it.