I was 13 when I knew I wanted to be a writer. My dad had just finished reading Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords trilogy and passed it on to me, thinking that I might enjoy it. So while I was shuttered inside the house during a long Chistmas break, I sat by our wood burning stove and read all three books in the space of a week (for a hyperactive teen with ADD, three books in a week was a miracle).
It was the first time I had ever really noticed the magic of language and how clever turns of phrases made interesting and exciting scenes that much more magical. It was as if a light bulb inside my head was slowly beginning to glow. But it wasn't until I read the very last sentence of the third and final book of the trilogy that the light truly came on and it all finally fell into place. The first sentence of the first book and the last sentence of the last book were the same.
I remember grabbing the first book and opening it up to the first page and holding the two books side by side, examing the words. They were practically identical, yet the journey from point A to point B had given them completely different meanings. It was such a profound moment that I knew in that instant that THAT was what I wanted to do. I wanted to affect people the same way Saberhagen had affected me.
And I like to think that someday I will.
Yet of all the writing and storytelling techniques I've learned since that day, the concept of bookending still fascinates me the most. I always get excited when I see it. Alan Moore used it in Watchmen with the drop of red on the smiley face and again in "The Killing Joke" with the drops of rain falling in a dark puddle. The images or words may be identical, yet it's the story in between that gives each a separate meaning. It's the story that defines them (and I'm sure there are numerous other examples out there other than just these three).
As for my own writing, I've only used it once, with Fall of Cthulhu. Since it has been my longest ongoing series, I thought it fitting to use bookending as an homage to the story that infected me with the writing bug.
Which makes me curious about my fellow monkeys. At what moment did you know that you wanted to be a writer (or a musician, accountant, whatever)? Let's hear about it in commments.