I’m gonna tell you a little story.
Hear that, folks? Get your cookies and milk ready–snuggle up under a comforter.
This is a story about me. I know…what an arrogant asshole.
You all, if you are writers–but, hey, all of us here are, right?–remember the first story you ever wrote. It was exciting and bold and, maybe, just a little bit, stinking bad. You probably have it stowed somewhere in your room or a cabinet and look over it from time to time.
Mine is a single page. Scribbled writing–only I can really read it. And an original title.
Jim and the Haunted House.
At eight, you see, I was competing against those pulp fiction writers…it was challenging.
I wrote Jim and the Haunted House in my third grade classroom–must have had some time on my hands and decided to use it in an excellent way, wish I could give my younger self a high-five. I thought it was sliced bread. This was Dickens’ David Copperfield; King’s The Shining; Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. In the coming years writers would battle against me on the New York Times Bestseller List. I was gonna be–famous! a writing rockstar! a–
A kid in third grade who wrote his first short story.
I let people read it; they told me they liked it–thought it was scary. So I wrote another one.
Jim and Area 51.
Okay, the title could have been improved; but, come on, I was eight–I was just figuring out that boogers weren’t food. The story; however, was…mediocre, same as the last one. The same people read it, said the same things–and so–
Yes, I wrote another one. And another one. And another one.
I was crazy endurance writer, penning a short three page story every week–or day, in some cases–and I was eating up the compliments… and all of you are seeing me as a pompous little git with a hairstyle like Richie Rich, aren’t you? That’s fine. I loved the feelings I had.
And all those days spent scribbling in a four subject spiral notebook, adding to be continued after the end, it never went through my mind that I could make something of it–that I could be good at it. Back then I wrote fan fiction. Now?
I think that is why we always remember our first story. It is an artifact of our selves–those struggling and eager selves, who, at one time or another, thought, hey, this is what I want to do. And we keep at it, the fervent humans that we are; we push the boundaries of our skills and become excellent.
That is why we write, really, to improve–to make one better effort at the game we have been playing since the moment we decided to start. And I say, game on.