As the release of my first published work draws closer, I have been thinking about the events and course that got me here, for better or for worse. In case you care about them, here they are:
This is the origin story, the part where I get bit by the radioactive spider, my homeworld is destroyed and/or my parents are murdered tragically in front of me.
Or something. Whatever.
Anyway, I was eight years old at the time. I was a too-skinny homeschooled kid who didn’t particularly care for the socially-awkward, too-religious homeschooled kids that comprised most of the homeschooling contingent back in those days (this has improved greatly; back then homeschooling had only just been legalized in Washington state and most of the families who did it were a little… off). In any case, there was some manner of homeschooling writing competition that it was insisted I enter (in case you think homeschooling equates to sleeping in and doing easy work… not in that household).
I wrote about a kid who moved cross-country, and his struggles in adapting to a new sport (I loved soccer at this point of my life). I think because my parents had both grown up moving about, they were fairly set on remaining in Podunk, Nowhere and I wanted to move around (‘write what you know’ was and is somewhat foreign advice to me). I didn’t think too terribly much of it- not that I didn’t put effort into it, but it wasn’t a huge deal to me at the time- and I submitted it without really caring what happened next.
At this point, I loved to read. If you stop by that Podunk library, the librarians will be all too happy to tell you stories of my bumping into walls and people as I tried to read one book and carry upwards of twenty more out the door. While I loved to read, I had no aspirations of being a writer.
The event itself was, somewhat ironically, in the junior high gym. All the various ‘books’ were laid out on tables, with notebook pages next to them for the assorted parents and such to make comments on. Truth told, I don’t remember much of the event itself. There was a comic book by one of the older kids, hand drawn, lettered and colored that was bloody fantastic and a bunch of stuff that was, well, written by a bunch of homeschooled kids (my cheery attitude was at full force, even in those early days).
Two things stood out to me:
1) They kept having to put more paper next to my story. Apparently a bunch of adults really liked this story by an eight year old. Cool enough, right?
2) My dad’s reaction. When I showed it to him before the event-thingy, he was pretty impressed. I chalked it up to parental pride. After the show, he gave me all the notes from the event and re-emphasized that it was really good, way beyond my age. I’ll never forget the look on his face, like he was imploring me to believe it. For going on twenty years now, he still talks about that story. Something clicked then, in the way, I suppose, that only comes in those moments where a parent or mentor or friend expresses some belief in you, and that moment is married with a realization that comes with time, age or maturity. As a kid who loved to read, books came from the library, and beyond that, it didn’t matter too much who wrote them.
Suddenly, it did, and for the first time it dawned on me that I could tell those stories.
PS- I have had this is my drafts for about two weeks, and kept wondering what happened to that story. I didn’t know if my parents kept it, or what. Then a couple days ago, dad sends me that picture. Talk about timing.