Rediscovering My Earliest Writing
My mum brought round a few of my old things recently, and among them was some of my earliest writing. I’ve written before that although there are many times when I didn’t realise it, or where I got distracted, my “thing” has always been writing. Seeing these pieces and remembering others reminds me that writing was my first love, and I’m still not giving it the attention it deserves.
My first prize
The piece in question is what I would call my first piece of writing. I can’t remember how old I was exactly but it must have been during the first half of my primary school years.
It is a very simple story,made three pages long instead of two by the inclusion of some drawings. It was the story of a boy called Matthew (inventing characters not an early strength then) and his visit to the Inventing Factory, which would be a very cool thing if it ever existed. I may put it on this site for a laugh, but basically some giant flies get created and Matthew ends up flying a crop-spraying helicopter loaded with fly spray over them (quite a feat for someone who’s 8 or thereabouts!)
There’s no mention of the prize in this collection but I distinctly remember winning something for this – the winner and prize being announced in assembly. Probably some book tokens or something. A proud moment!
My first use of research
The other entries here are from memory, which is not bad going for me (my memory s terrible). Another primary school story centred around the adventures of me and my friends when we were shrunk down to the size of ants. I guess I was heavily influenced by Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
A Few things stand out in my memory about this story. The first is that it took a long time. This was to be a recurring theme as I would write much more than my colleagues and would also spend time illustrating the stories myself. I remember they had moved on to other projects before I’d finished and my teacher, while she thought it was wonderful that I was putting so much effort in, would gently encourage me to get a move on.
The other point is that I used “research”. The speech marks are there because I didn’t go out and get the information in question – I remembered it from a previous class. But it was specific and I imagined it leant my story some authenticity nonetheless.
The sequence in question involved us travelling through a mushroom forest and getting caught up in web-like strands on the ground. The other adventurers exclaimed that they were caught in cobwebs, but my character piped up, “no, it’s mycelium!”
I was a bit of a know it all when I was little (I’ve regained a bit of that I’m afraid), and I soaked up facts like that. What I couldn’t quite understand was that the others in my class didn’t know what mycelium was – they had had the same lesson!
My first easy way out
This one got read out to nursery school kids I think. Or at least to the lowest primary school class. A few of us were selected to read our stories to them. Poor buggers! My tale was long, and it was certainly unreasonable to expect kids as young as that to sit through the whole thing. There was some sense of competition I think – whose story would win over the little ones? Who would be a celebrity among the tinies for a day?
I was disappointed that my take of a journey to find a dragon in order to avert some kind of apocalypse did not ignite their imaginations. But I had an ace up my sleeve; a cheating, ridiculous ace.
For some reason (laziness, boredom, fandom. Take your pick), I had decided to include Teenage Mutant Hero (this was before they were called Ninjas in the UK – “ninja” was seen as too violent) Turtles in the story to spice things up.
The little kids certainly woke up at the mention of Leonardo and chums. “Ha! Now I’ve got you,” I thought, but secretly this only deepened my disappointment that they didn’t like my story proper, and it took this lazy gimmick to pique their interest.
The first time I truly gave up
I think this was the last year of primary school. What a sad and tragic day. I had the beginnings of a story. A young boy (probably called Matthew, nudging by my track record, but hopefully I had grown out of this by now), found himself attacked in the middle of the night by some tiny goblin-like creatures.
I had this (really quite neat) idea that they were made entirely of soft tissue or that their bones disintegrated on death to explain away how no fossils of these ancient creatures had ever been discovered. They were to kidnap our hero and reveal a world hidden from everyday view.
But I simply couldn’t be bothered. I had a beginning, but no idea where it would go. I knew how this went. It would take forever to write; I would be nagged to finish and be behind the rest of the class, and although my teacher would appreciate it, none of my class mates would care in the slightest.
So I got lazy, and finished the story off in one sentence,’something like, “and then Supermonkey flew in through the window and saved him.” Yeah, that’s right, I made up a character called Supermonkey. What the hell?
The only illustration was the aforementioned simian smashing through the bedroom window. I think the story only lasted one A4 page. The shame.
So that’s my trip down memory lane. It’s a shame I was allowed to get away with such shortcuts, but it’s nice to note how many opportunities I had to write from a young age and how much encouragement we had.
Most of all, it’s interesting to reflect on the early lessons that were learned then, and on the overwhelming feeling that even from that age some part of me had already decided I was a writer.