Recently, Ely over at She Gives No Fox shared the story of how she came to love writing at a young age. Her story jogged my memory and reminded me that my own story of learning to love writing was somewhat similar.
For Ely, it was second grade. For me, it was a few years later.
When I was in 5th grade, I had a teacher named Ms. Barlow for social studies as well as reading/writing. Also, because I was apparently a child prodigy, I was in her advanced reading group. I say that like it’s a big deal. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it just meant that she expected us to do more work in less time. Which is sort of cool… I guess…
Anyway, I can’t honestly say what got me started with the writing. I don’t know if there was an assignment or if it was just the kind of thing she gave us to do in our free time. Whatever the case, I decided I wanted to write a book.
That’s right. I was 10 years old. And I wanted to write a book.
I called it The Prince. It wasn’t until years later that I learned some guy named Machiavelli already wrote a book titled The Prince which was apparently a big deal. I’m pretty sure it’s a guidebook on how to be a megalomaniac. I don’t know, I never read it.
My version was much more lighthearted. And all the characters were friends of mine. Except for the villain. I named him after a jerk in my class that I never liked.
The main character was a prince. And, no, I did not make myself the main character. I wasn’t that conceited. The main character was based on the kid that I considered the coolest guy in class. He was betrothed (not sure I used that word, but I understood the concept) to a princess who was kidnapped by the villain. The prince and his two compatriots (this is where I used myself and my best friend) had to travel outside of the kingdom to rescue the princess. The prince faced down the bad guy in epic fashion. Good triumphed over evil. The end.
I’m pretty sure I threw in other kids from Ms. Barlow’s class as characters. Because it wasn’t just a straight shot from the good guy’s castle to the bad guy’s castle. There had to be adventures along the way. If I remember correctly, they met a witch in a forest who helped them at some point.
I’ve said before that I’m not a very sentimental person. So I don’t hold on to things. Therefore, I have no idea whatever happened to the notebook in which I wrote this epic tale. Oh, and just to paint the picture, my story took up about half of a standard wide-ruled notebook. So, you could definitely read it in about five minutes.
But it seemed to impress Ms. Barlow when I let her read it. In fact, she encouraged me to submit it to some kind of young writers’ publication. I’m sure it had an official title, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called. I know that they accepted children’s writing and published a collection each year.
I never submitted the story, though. I wanted to revise it before I submitted anything. And then I never thought it was good enough. Always my own worst critic, even back then. Probably why I’ve still never brought myself to write a full novel to completion. I’ve got all these ideas and I get started, only to tell myself that it’s not good enough. What’s the point?
I think I need more of Ms. Barlow whispering encouragement and less of myself saying I can’t…