Friday, June 20, 2008

When Did You Know?

Someone asked me when I knew I wanted to write. Sigh. To answer, back in the fifth grade. My first story should have been a tip off. I don't remember much about it other than it ended with the protagonist being cut in half with a buzz saw. I also seem to remember something about "a fine mist of red filled the air". I also remember my brother reading it, putting down the looseleaf paper, and giving me an odd look.

Today that kind of writing would have had me ending up in some counselor's office. I probably would have been kicked out of school. Especially since I would occasionally write something about my Algebra teacher:

"'Where am I?' she asked, waking. I grinned and responded: 'Oh, someplace where you can scream and scream and no one will be able to hear you.'"

Simpler times.

In fifth grade, one's writing isn't quite polished and the stories tend to be a bit unoriginal. Often they include characters from favorite comic books and television shows. Occasionally, they also might have included an illustration or two.

I also seem to remember thinking how easy it would be to become a writer back then. Why shouldn't I? The stories I were reading often had writers as protagonists. Science fiction and horror for some reason has a good deal of wish fulfillment and narcissistic elements. In how many Stephen King stories is the main character a writer? In science fiction, the writer was always going off into space with the hot babe.

So...when did you want to be a writer? And I don't mean when did you start writing poetry? I mean real writing?


spyscribbler said...

I knew I wanted to be kinky first, and the writing followed. :-) As I kept writing, I suddenly realized I loved writing, loved stories.

Charles Gramlich said...

although I wrote at a younger age, it wasn't until I was about 17 that I actually gave thought to becoming a writer. I sat down almost immediately and wrote a terrible western. Egads.

SQT said...

This is a hard one. I mean, it wasn't like I wanted to be a writer, it's just that I always wrote.

It wasn't until high school, with the encouragement of a few teachers, that I began to realize I might be able to turn it into a career. I haven't quite gotten there yet, but there's still hope.

Mark Rainey said...

I was pursuing an art degree in college, and somewhere along the way I discovered I enjoyed putting words together to make stories as much as drawing and painting pictures. I'd loved to write little spooky tales ever since I was a wee lad, but it was reading HPL that sewed it up for me. I began writing "seriously" not long after that, and that was the beginning of my downfall. ;)

Shade53 said...

I've always loved telling stories so it was a natural progression. I was probably about 7 when my grandmother asked what I wanted to be and I told her 'a writer' and was told that was not very realistic (after a trip to Louisa May Alcott's house no less!). But it's what I've always wanted to do.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Spy, kinky is a good start for a writer. It's a good start...period. Charles, seventeen. So, you basically decided it was a good way to meet girls?

SQT, it's funny how some people just look back and's just something I've always done. As though it was the flowering of an innate talent.

Not until college, Mark? I wonder what major evolution you've gone through as a writer, but I'll save that for the next posting.

Shade,Seven? With a trip to Louise May Alcott's house? That's pretty interesting. It's also interesting that the grandmother is present as a supportive force here, encouraging the creative.

Jon said...

I remember that shortly after learning my letters (age 5?), I started writing things I called "stories." They were just clumps of letters layed out in lines. I was sure they had great meaning, but since I couldn't read, I didn't know what I had said. I asked my mother once what my story said and she said, "nothing, they're just letters." My first rejection slip. True story.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, Stewart! I knew I wanted to write in junior high. I just knew I would do it. Got side tracked in college and went into speech pathology instead. Still dreaming but still going to/am doing it!

SQT said...


My mom did the almost exact same thing to me when I was a kid! Funny how we remember that stuff. I try to keep that in mind when my kids are showing me stuff.

Fab said...

"real writing", that's funny.
I can imagine it being hard to pinpoint.