Everyone who knows me has heard the story about how I decided to become a writer. It’s an integral part of the Legend of Dani. The tale of a young girl in a library who has the realization that PEOPLE WRITE BOOKS!!
It’s something I talk about all the time. I laugh at the naive young bookworm who hadn’t in all her well-read years put together that there were people who sat down, putting words to paper to create the stories she loved. It’s adorable. It makes good copy for my online bio.
But it has always been an isolated incident. Some sort of message from Heaven that fell on me in the middle of the library. I never questioned it.
Last night, however, changed it. And in changing such a integral part of my story, I think it’s changed ME.
Let me explain.
Nevi and I were working on boring writing stuff. The nuts and bolts of the process. Not the wild abandon of creating new words, but the polishing and shaping of our work into something fit for public consumption. While we do this, we like to have something on the TV that we can sort of pay attention to, but not really. So, we put on the Voice. Like all other shows we watch, we’re tragically behind (so please don’t spoil it for me!).
We just started it from the beginning, watching the first auditions again while we worked. At some point near the end of the night, this young girl came on. Her name escapes me at the moment, but she was only 13. Not much older than I was when I had the Library Epiphany.
She didn’t get any chair turns. But what she did get was the 4 coaches talking to her about how to improve her craft and telling her to give it a few years and she’s be unstoppable. I made a comment about how awesome it must be at that age to be told that you have the potential to do the thing you love for real. It would be a huge deal for anyone at any age, but at 13 that can really and truly change your whole life.
What happened next, well, I’m still processing it. I’m still figuring out how I feel about it and what it means for me.
I remembered being in my 6th grade English class. For whatever reason, the teacher expected A LOT from the students. This class was hard. Like, did we wander into the wrong grade HARD. But to off set his high expectations for our regular class work, this teacher offered us the chance to earn 10 extra credit points a week by turning in a short story that was at least one page front and back. It could be about anything, as long as it was technically sound. No misspellings, no shitty grammar, correct punctuation. And as a whole, the class jumped on it.
To the point where the teacher was threatening to revoke our extra credit privileges.
Now, I had been telling stories most of my life. I even did a partner project in the last year of my Gifted and Talented program in elementary school where we wrote a story about a family of the future and the daily drama of their malfunctioning technology. It was horrible, but we loved writing it. I had always read books above my grade level, frustrating some of my elementary school teachers (I’m talking about you, scourge of my 4th grade year) and delighting others. I was very into stories. So finally being able to get some kind of recognition for it was awesome.
But I was only 11. It was the sixth grade. I didn’t exactly have a treasure trove of inspiration to draw from. I got 2 or 3 points a week with my crappy little stories about kittens and whatever. They were crappy and immature and so bad.
The threat of having those precious points taken away threw me for a loop. I couldn’t get a bad grade. I NEVER got bad grades. I think I was convinced that I would be expelled from school, thrown out of my house and sent to live in an orphanage where I’d have to work the coal mines to earn my keep. Letting those extra points slip out of my grasp wasn’t an option.
So I sat myself down and I thought about what I was writing. I racked my poor little 11 year old brain until it hurt. What I came up with was a four page horror story about an alien blob monster that possessed and killed half a city before it was finally contained. It was terrible, I’m sure. It’s been lost to time for years now, so I don’t know just how bad it was. But I was 11 and really into cheesy horror movies & books at the time. It had to be complete drivel.
When it was handed back on Monday morning, I had been given DOUBLE POINTS. A big red 20 was circled at the top of the first page. It was unheard of for anyone to get the full 10 the teacher had offered, but here I was with twice that.
But that wasn’t all. The teacher took a minute to talk to me at the end of class. He asked me about the story, about the hanging plot points. ASKED IF I WAS PLANNING A SEQUEL. He even offered enough extra credit points to guarantee me an A for this period, even if I didn’t do another lick of homework and skipped class every day.
Of course, I set right to work on it. I ended up writing 4 or 5 installments of the Blob Monster Eats the City. And I got just piles of extra credit points. And something much more important to who I was going to become.
My English teacher sat across from me after reading one of my childish horror stories, this one sporting a huge 50 point bonus, and he said to me something that probably short circuited my little brain. Which is why I haven’t thought of it probably my entire adult life.
“You’re good for your age. You could do this professionally.”
Of course, that is something every aspiring writer wants to hear. We dream of it every night (when not dreaming of winning the lottery and moving to an island all our own). And I had it handed to me when I hadn’t even hit puberty. Fucking crazy right?
The crazy part is, I nodded, said thank you, took my treasure trove of extra credit and went home. Actually, I went to the library, which was around the corner from my middle school and where I went nearly every night after school to trade in the pile of books from the last time I was there. But the entire block I was thinking, “wait, what? Writing books isn’t a job. That man is crazy.”
And now, I have perspective for the moment I stood there, looking at row after row of books until it hit me that yes, in fact, writing books was a job. It was a job many, many people had, if the different names on the spines of these books were to be trusted.
It was a job I could have.
It is a job I do have.
How cool is that?
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Like what you’ve read so far? Awesome! Maybe you’d like to hear about the stories I make up with my partner Nevi?
Until the end of today (Jan 1, 2018) all of our eBooks are on sale on Smashwords with their end of the year coupons. The site has all the details laid out plainly for you. Easy-peasy.
But if you miss the sale, or you just prefer Amazon, we have all 4 books from the Parliament of Twilight series on Kindle, and Episodes 2, 3, & 4 have paperback editions. The paperback re-release for Episode 1 has been delayed a bit. But that’s because I’m working on some really cool new cover art for it and need time to finalize the designs. Details on that will be coming in future updates.