How a Potato Launched My Writing Career

[One of my favorite posts from 2015]

Everyone knows that potatoes have eyes—those little dimples on the skin that sprout potato plantlings—but did you know that potatoes have legs?

I remember a sunny Saturday morning when I was a kid watching my mom peel potatoes at the kitchen sink. As the sharp peeler scraped the potatoes bare, I saw Mom dig out tiny, green bumps.

“Are those warts?” I asked.

“No, they’re eyes,” said Mom.

“How come potatoes have eyes?”

“Because little potato plants grow from the eyes,” she said.

“You’re cutting off the babies? You’re killing them!”

Just then, I’d realized that a potato was a living thing, a mother with babies sprouting from her eyes! (How weird was that?) And my mom was ripping the skin off that mother potato, digging the babies out of her eyes, and throwing them away like garbage. Then she cut that mother potato into pieces and boiled her in water.

Oh, the agony of it all!
The inhumanity!

Was I being a bit dramatic?


Did Mom suggest that I go outside and play?

She did.

But, instead I went to my room, and I wrote a story about that potato sprouting legs and running away from my evil mother. With my limited knowledge of how to put words onto paper I wrote:


Mom try to kill her
She run away
Run Potato Legs run.
The end.        

And that’s how my writing career began. Many more stories followed “Potato Legs” and today I can’t think of any better activity than to write.

Every writer has that one eureka moment that sparks his or her need to write.

Sometimes it’s a what-if question that begs to be answered. (What if potatoes had legs?)

Other times, a tragedy needs to bleed out shedding its anger and grief. (Dave Pelzer’s “A Child Called It” comes to mind.)

The need to write might come from reading a poorly written book. (“I could write better than that!”)

Or from the desire to be heard. (Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”)

But most often, inspiration comes from encouragement. (“Hey! You should write a book!”)

How about you?
When was your eureka moment?
Why do you write?


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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Uncategorized, Why write?, writing, Writing goals

2 responses to “How a Potato Launched My Writing Career

  1. This is precious. I went through an emotionally difficult time in my life. I couldn’t sleep for several nights. One night, my mind wouldn’t shut down and the thought came to my mind, “I could write a book.” I recently published a devotional book. This is a totally different book than what I thought about that night when I couldn’t sleep.

  2. I may never be able to eat another potato. 😀 I’ve read “A Child Called It.” I started writing again as an adult because I needed to give Frodo Baggins a happier ending. Others read the stories and said, “Hey, you should write historical romance.” Writing is like breathing.

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