When I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7, I found a cheap sci-fi paperback in a store called Mott’s 5-and-Dime. That makes me sound like, really old, starting a post off at a 5-and-Dime, but I think it was the 5-and-Dime that was old, not me. Anyhoo, we used to go there for school supplies, or the occasional artsy-crafty stuff for projects. But the little book rack they had was more interesting than the school supplies or artsy-crafty stuff. And on the book rack one time was a book with this really cool cover:
As you can see, there were some big names in this one — Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, Jack Finney — and I remember thinking, after I finally read it many years later, that every story was engaging and good. Funny how a book will wait until you’re ready, find you at the right time. Anyhoo… (oops I already used that, didn’t I?)
Way before I ever actually read the thing, the title of one story jumped out at me: “The Martian Crown Jewels.” Such a great title that I wanted to use it for my own story (nevermind someone else had already used it for theirs and I could just read that one. That’s not how kids think.)
I’d never written a story, just thought that was a cool title that made me want to write. So I sat down on my bed with a notepad, crossed my legs, probably had on white tube sucks that came up to the knees and ended with two stripes at the top, and started to write.
I started with a countdown, a ship about to blast off. I wrote ‘ten…’ and then I wrote some dumb stuff. Then I wrote ‘nine…’ and some more dumb stuff.
Then I gave up. That’s as far as I got. Never wrote anything else that wasn’t a school assignment until college.
And the only reason I say any of that is to say this: My daughter, who will be 7 next month, wrote her first short story today. I didn’t even know she was writing it. She called up from downstairs, asking “How do you spell [this], how do you spell [that] — which she does sometimes when she’s writing. But what she usually writes are lists of favorite things, or sweet notes to mommy (even daddy sometimes), things like that. A couple of times she copied stories out of books. One time she wrote about something that happened at school.
What I didn’t know was that today she had embarked on her first foray into fiction. Which of course I must now reproduce in full:
Once upon A TIME
There was bad guy who loved gold and one nigh he broke in to a bank and stole the gold money that was in the bank he burst out of the bank and in to the rainy night he jumped in to his van and drove away mean while at the bank the people called the police and told them about the problem the police got in to there car and drove after bad guy the bad was near town hall and the police had cot up to him but before the police cod rest him the bad guy got struck by a bolt of lightening The end.
Her first attempt at original fiction is much better than mine. I like how the guy ‘bursts’ out of the bank into the ‘rainy night.’ There’s even a beginning, middle, and end. And I just wanted to… well, gush a little about this for a minute.