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How did this cute kid ever decide he wanted to become an author?

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

I mention in my bio here on my website that, while I was a college student, I dreamed of becoming an author, only to discover the world of theater and my path was forever changed.

There are certain early experiences, though, which are context clues to the fact that writing was also a calling for me.

As a teenager, I confess that I wasn't the most conscientious student. I got good enough grades (a B+ student) due to two factors: good writing skills and fear of my father. You may think that I have been a lifelong lover of reading, but it simply isn’t true. I was too preoccupied with shooting a basketball, playing in a rock band, and worrying about which girl I was in love with at the moment to read for pleasure. In fact, by the time I was a sophomore, I had stopped reading assigned novels in English class. As a junior, I began to wonder if I could still read an entire book, so I got my hands on a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, read it from cover to cover to prove to myself that I could, and that was the extent of my pleasure reading in high school. Sad but true!

Back to writing, though. One memorable experience occurred in English class when I was a high school junior, and we did a unit on Helen Keller. A student teacher gave us an assignment: Imagine that you are blind and deaf, and describe a place you are in. After the essays were turned in and corrected, she told the class she wanted to read us the best essay. Imagine my surprise when she announced to the class that she was about to read my essay!

How did a person who didn't love to read, then, end up majoring in English? The answer is simple -- I had garnered a high score on an SAT Writing Achievement Test (known today as an SAT II test). Feeling pressured to pick a major, I thought to myself, I'm apparently a good writer, I guess I’ll just check off English on this form. In college, with a little more maturity and a lot more at stake, I read my assignments and became a lifelong lover of good literature. Moral: never judge a person by his behavior at sixteen!

Another positive writing experience that comes to mind occurred in my World Civilization class when I was a college freshman. After the first essay test, the professor (I even remember his name: Dr. Phipps) called us up to his desk to get our tests back. Handing my blue booklet to me, Dr. Phipps said, "Yours was the highest grade in the class, Mr. Scarpa." I was truly dumbfounded. "It was?" I said. "Oh come now, Mr. Scarpa," Dr. Phipps replied. "You and I both know that you never got anything below an A in your entire life." It wasn't true, but that test and his remark gave me a lot of confidence moving forward in my college career.

When I took a creative writing course during my second semester in college, I was hooked. Fast forward to my first experience on the stage, and my fate was forever changed, though. But never say never. This business of authoring has come at a perfect time in my life, and I am grateful to have a creative outlet I can enjoy from the comfort of my own home. I am also forever grateful to friends, old and new, who support me in this new endeavor!

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