I recently responded to the question: “Who was your first writing mentor?” Most of my colleagues across the nation paid tributes to teachers, parents, and siblings. But as I thought about this querie, I knew exactly whom I had to thank.
You see “the devil made me do it!” As I youngster, I clamored for attention from the adults in my life – teachers, parents, grandparents, etc. Thinking my childhood devoid of adventure, I created my own and passed on the fictional details as truths.
I clearly remember walking home from school and pondering an idea for an exciting story I could tell my mom and dad. I recall passing a yard filled with golden dandelions and a small horse pasture that neighbored it. The story started with a wonder: “I wonder what would happen if a man came out of that house and asked me to pick all those dandelions, and what if he said he would give me a pony if I would do that for him?”
Of course that led to my black lie with the added ending that I sadly refused because my mom expected me to come home directly after school. (These days a child would include that it wouldn’t be safe to respond to a stranger’s bidding. My world in Pocatello, Idaho was much safer than my grandchildren’s world today. So sad.)
Anyway, my mind constantly reeled with ideas and stories, some of which turned into little plays that I forced my sister and cousins to perform on holidays. Sometimes we dramatized other authors’ stories for our moms, dads, grandparents, and cousins – the ones too embarrassed to participate in the play.
None of these performances included a written script – that came later in high school. My drama class wanted to perform a Christmas play for the neighboring elementary schools, but we could not find a script we liked that was short enough to perform in 15 minutes and required 15 characters.
I told my drama coach about a favorite story I retold as a second-grader performing in Mrs. Quidor’s Little Theater. I included how we could adapt it for our needs. He encouraged me to write up the script; I did, and we performed the delightful “playlet” for scores of children, including those from my alma mater Lewis and Clark Elementary. That was the first time I was praised for my writing!
In the end, I’m hoping Lucifer feels foiled because my bad habit turned into something positive, good, and rewarding. I’ve written poems, plays, road shows, skits, memoirs, stories, blogs, research papers, news and magazine articles, blogs, webpages, wikispaces, and 2 chapters of a book.
I’ve submitted only 4 pieces of writing: an article for the Weight Watcher newspaper (1972), a “Best Christmas Memory” for the Deseret News (1994), a short Christmas story to Covenant Publishers (2005), and an article for the Utah English Journal (2008). Only the latter was published, but I’m not discouraged because that’s ol’ Scratch’s favorite tool! And I’m not listening to him anymore.