I Tell Stories

Amanda Dinkel

From the moment I learned to read independently (at the age of four), and probably since the moment I could talk (ask my mom), I was obsessed about stories that entertain.

I started with Seuss and company, in those monthly book subscriptions that came in my name. Hop on Pop, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Are You My Mother?, until I could read The Berenstein Bears and Little Critter books on my own. My parents supplied me with books that came with tapes that read to me, and my very first anthologies: Precious Moments’ Through the Day Stories, and Stories from the Bible. My dad read with me every night, and weekend and summer lunchtime would find me with my mom and older brothers reading while eating in peace.

I cannot recall when I started telling stories, or trying to write them down, but when I was eight, my mother gave me a journal for my birthday. It was pink with a Precious Moments little girl and duck (or was it a swan?) drawn on its cover. I created stories in there, from my imagination, and in real life.

In fifth grade, my classmate, Lacey, and I wrote our very first book together. It was called “Our Class” and it had clever titles like “Excellent English” and “Magnificent Math” and we told stories that happened in each subject. Canvas would say something outlandish, or Tony would be obtuse, or Rachel would smile knowingly…these are what we chronicled in our small parochial school environment. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I was a storyteller.

Books, to me, were not for literature. Did I read literature? Absolutely. I had to, according to my high school and college curriculums. In my adult years, I even like to challenge myself to read one classic a year. One year it was Anna Karenina, another The Great Gatsby. I enjoyed them, but not as much as the books I have now learned are called “commercial writing”.

I have zero shame in the fact that as a youth, I read with zeal the following serials: The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and the heart-crushing books by Lurlene McDaniel (in which my mom would say every time I cried at the ending, “Why do you do this to yourself, Amanda?” and I would reply, “He planted tulips in the end zones for her, mom, how do you not understand that?!”—bonus points if you know which book I’m talking about). In my late teens and twenties, I read the Harry Potter series, Hunger Games trilogy, Jessica Darling quintet, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants saga, and The Selection series. I’ve found books to be a great friend to turn to again and again: Summer Sisters, Good in Bed, Speak, Anne of Green Gables, Along for the Ride, and The Boy Next Door. Those books have entertained me and inspired me.

Throughout most of my adult life, I have turned my experiences into a story. There was the story about Train Boy, who I met on a train and after he started to creep me out when he prayed for my DVD player to work, I kept dating him because he kept treating me to steak dinners (I am not ashamed. I was student teaching and poor). The many stories about being ghosted, although I didn’t know at the time that there was a name for guys who lead you on and then fell off the face of the earth (talkin’ ‘bout you, Andy the Third, if you are still alive, which I believe you to be since I didn’t find your obituary that summer). The stories about why I don’t date anyone by that name any more (the First was a decent man, the Second and Third were progressively got worse), and the stories from all my travels (I dare you to ask me about my trip to Austria in 2014, it’s a good one). My friends will laugh or gasp appreciatively at the right parts, then go on to tell me that I need to “write a book about it.”

I tell stories.

I’m also, as you know from this page, a photographer. I can best describe my photography as story-telling as well. From my portraits of seniors and babies, and everything in between, to my travel photography. They all tell stories from my life.

Many of you who read this already know me quite well. Whether as your teacher, friend, or family (hi mom and dad!), you know that I’m an aspiring author. If you don’t know me, this is what you should know: I’m a teacher and photographer. I’ve tutored students when they need extra help. I am a world traveler and coffee connoisseur. I am also a paid and published short story writer, but I’m working towards that coveted title of “Author”. The only way to do this is to write, and write, and while I waiting for word back on my first novel, I will write some more.

I’m hoping to add to this blog. There will be photographs from my clients. There will be photographs from my life. There may also be posts that boast no photographs, but my stories I want to share with you. Because that is what I do.

I am Amanda, and I tell stories.

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