Charlie asked recently about our origins (as writers, not the Origins that makes my favorite moisturizer).
I'm not sure where I got my start exactly. My folks were always very pro-arts. I remember my dad typing up my first volume of poetry on his electric typewriter when I was in second grade and he was working on his MBA thesis.
Elementary teachers were somewhat encouraging, or at least enabling, since I couldn't resist drafting convoluted example sentences for vocabulary drills. I remember making up the name Moritia and using it in a sentence. Now I realize that likely the teacher thought I was alluding to Morticia Addams, a character I was wholly unfamiliar with until college. But I didn't get points off.
Honestly, I thank my junior high and early high school days in Midland (MI) Public Schools for getting me really excited about writing and letting me have fun with it. Mrs. Choate and Mr. Demko come to mind immediately, along with my saga-writing side projects with classmate Byf. Both of those teachers took an interest in my writing and encouraged creativity in their assignments, something I always ran with.
When I was a sophomore I attended a summer writing program at Michigan Tech. Imagine a group of high schoolers from all over the state staying in dorms and taking day trips to places like Copper Harbor. I'm still writing about it. Wasted some of my time working out a dance routine for the talent show (but hey! taking second place also prepared me for a career as a writer), but overall came home with a fat notebook.
When I moved to another part of Michigan the English classes were uninspiring and I graduated wanting nothing to do with English. Then, at U Mich, the epiphany. Now I can't imagine myself as anything other than an English prof and writer (who, for whatever reason, bears a mild resemblance to Morticia Addams).