Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post: MJ Fletcher-- Opening the Door to Writing

GUEST POST:  Continuing the conversation on writing, author MJ Fletcher explains how he first began his adventures with the written word.

"What's that?" I asked my mother as I stared at the explosion of color and action on the cover.

"It's a comic book, do you want it?"

Two men locked in mortal combat, one wearing a massive red cape while the other, some type of alien, attacked him. How could I not want it? It screamed at me about other worlds and possibilities unimaginable by my young mind.

"Yes." I was enthralled and in that moment my love affair with reading began.

My mother never cared what I read; comic books, magazines, newspapers, books, as long as I was reading she was satisfied. I was a voracious reader of comic books and when I discovered the Lord Of The Rings I became an equally avid reader of prose.

I would go out and ride bikes with my friends, do little league or play war in the woods. But when I came home I was equally as happy with Spider-Man as I was with C. Auguste Dupin,  going on amazing adventures or solving mysteries, whichever, I loved every moment. I was hooked, a reader for life and I knew it. Going to the library was one of my favorite excursions or even better the book store where I could take books home and never have to return them. They were mine to read over and over again.

I find people always want children to read the right books, and I find that odd since there are no wrong books. If my mother had turned her nose up at that comic book I may never have become the voracious reader I am today. But there in lies one of my secrets, my mother was also a writer. She knew better than to try and force my tastes in books, instead she allowed me to sample and discover.

At school when we would have book reports, most of my class would allow the librarian or teacher to "suggest" a book for them. I, on the other hand, would create piles trying to determine which one I most wanted to read.

Then in fourth grade the next defining moment happened in Miss Smith's class. She gave us a simple assignment with one paragraph at the top of the page describing someone walking into dense fog. The instructions were to write the rest of the story. My classmates were all done rather quickly. I however filled the front and back of the page. I went home that night and started writing on my own and I haven't stopped since. I would give my short stories to my mother and she would correct them. I got used to seeing red ink all over my creations.

I was lucky enough to have a parent who encouraged not only my love of reading but also my penchant for writing. Writing is a solitary and lonely pursuit but one of great personal reward. It demands constant attention and reinvention from its pursuers and takes it measure in full. But to sit down and create a new world or character who can reach out across a page and not only connect but impact a young reader much in the same way I was affected the first time I saw that comic book... is my ultimate goal each and every time I pound away at my keyboard.

Not everyone is as lucky as I've been. Many students think of reading and writing as a chore rather than something to enjoy. Let them read magazines or graphic novels, give them a simple writing  assignment to stir their imaginations and most of all if you see a spark of creativity...  foster it and help it to grow.
Our experiences define us and help form who we become. My name is MJ Fletcher and I'm a writer thanks to those defining moments in my life.

I've written comic books, short stories, and novels. My love of the written word has never ebbed and I hope it never will. New stories and ideas are always popping into my head, begging to be told. My latest creation, The Doorknob Society Saga, will take you to the wildest places, with a crazy group of friends, with just the touch of a doorknob.  The first three books in the series, The Doorknob Society, The Impossible Engineers, and The Mapmakers Union are now available with book one, The Doorknob Society currently free for download on Kindle.


  1. I'm struggling with this as a writing teacher. A couple of my students want to use their independent home writing time to write only graphic novels. The parents are nervous that the students are not getting pushed toward more "formal writing."

    The students write literary essays, realistic fiction stories, and other genres in class, but I want them to spend their "assigned" free writing time writing what they love. AND, I want them to read what they love so that they can use graphic novels as mentor texts for writing.

    I feel like I've struck a balance. I wish I could get parents to feel that way.

  2. Janet, other than being nervous, are there any other reasons to bad graphic novel writing? If they start with graphic novels, eventually they will move on to other forms. Graphic novel writing uses universal creative writing skills! If the students enjoy writing then they will write more; the more they write, the more proficient and adept they will become. I say just keep 'em writing! :-)