I started writing fiction when I was a kid. To be honest, I couldn’t really give you an age, but my best guess is 7. No lie.
I was going to tell you about one of my first stories but why do that when I can let you read it? Well, mostly because it’s embarrassing but what the heck. I wrote this one when I was about 9. See if you can recognize the subtle influence of the fables I read as a child; my adult self comments are in teal:
Once upon a time, there lived in the forest a small elf. He had escaped from Santa’s workshop. (Because apparently Santa used slave labor.) Ho got into a lot of mischief. His name was Otto.
One day, Otto was sneaking through the woods when he saw a cave. When he went in, it was very dark. Then he saw four ugly faces glowing in the darkness. (Can you tell I had those glow-in-the-dark troll figurines/dolls?)
“Who are you?” Otto asked.
“We are the Trolls of the Forest,” they said. “Our names are Gary, Carol, Kyle and Patty. We guard, clean, keep, and plant the forest.” (And even as a child, I had a thing for alliteration.)
“Wow! You sure do a lot of work!” cried Otto.
So the trolls and Otto became friends. (Obviously. Friendship is so simple when you’re 9.) The next day, Otto decided to play a trick on the trolls. What he didn’t know was that trolls are sensitive. So when he dumped water on them, they started to cry. Then they walked away and Otto never saw them again.
Soon, the forest began to rot away. All the animals came to Otto and said it was his fault that the forest was rotting away. So Otto had to work day and night to restore the forest.
Moral: Playing a trick can lead to a fall.
Nice cheery story, huh? Yeah, I read a lot of fables when I was a kid. While other children grew up with Dr. Seuss and fairy tales, I grew up with The Book of Virtues (I found it much more interesting) and easy-readers about the Titanic, King Tut, and Pomeii. (I wrote about those here.)
Surely other people wrote strange stories when they were little. No? Come on, spill.
I’ve decided to start incorporating some writing prompts into my blogging routine, just to keep those creative juices flowing. So here’s the first one, courtesy of Writing Prompts Tumblr. (And yes, I know it has a typo in it, but it makes me smile. And it makes me think I’m being questioned by an owl.)
I’ve never actually had a mentor. It’s something I think about sometimes, how I wish I’d had someone like that who’d made a long-term investment in me. (Ya know, besides family.) But gosh, if I could pick anyone…
I guess I’d have to say Jo March. (Figures my ideal mentor would be fictional!) A writer, an amateur actress, and someone who is unafraid to whole-heartedly pursue her dreams and schemes, I could learn a lot from her. Sure, she could be hot-headed, but she learned to let her passion drive her without controlling her.
I want her boldness. You could see it in the way she just picked up and went to New York all by herself because she needed something new. When her family needed money, she sacrificed her “one beauty” by selling her hair. Unlike her sisters, she wasn’t obsessed with finding herself a man (hallelujah!) but was still wise enough to recognize the right one.
She’s practical and spunky and a whole lot of things I’d like to be.
And training would be delightful. I’d write pages for her and she’d scowl as she read them. “No no, your character wouldn’t do that,” she’d mumble as she scribbled her notes. “Try this instead.”
Standing, she’d act out her suggestion as I scribbled my own notes. It would be brilliant of course — her suggestion. And she’d keep pushing me, with ideas and challenges until I was exhausted but certain my manuscript could be no better.
Then she’d smile. “That’s it,” she’d tell me as she finished reading the final version. “Now get it published. And don’t take no for an answer.”
She’d give me tips and commiserate when I got bad news. And by commiserate, I of course mean she’d rail against the idiot publisher and what a stupid move it was for them to turn me down.
“Load of boneheads,” she’d mutter. “Wouldn’t know a good book if it punched them in the nose.”
And she’d be the first to rejoice with me when it did happen, shrieking with glee. We’d take a moment to celebrate before she pushed me toward the next book.
Because that’s what mentors do: encourage, challenge, and, when needed, push.
There you have it. Jo March, my dream mentor. What about you, how would you answer this prompt?