A post at Betsy Lerner’s wonderful blog, today, asked why those of us afflicted with narrative disorder at a young age began to write. It sparked a memory of the very first time I ever showed my writing to anyone and, since upon leaving Japan this blog will return to focusing more on its original topic: writing and chasing publication, I thought I’d dip a toe into that more revealing and intimate pool of thought and share it.
I don’t remember when I first began to write, but I remember vividly the first time I showed my writing to anyone. It was in grade 2 (so, about 7yrs old?) and I had carefully written and illustrated a Miffy-like book to read to the prep class, which my friend and I were sent to do when we were giggling too much for Mr. Rochstein. The ‘book’ was about a small, yellow bird that lived in a tree (which had lots of individually, painstakingly drawn leaves, as I recall). At lunchtime, I showed it to my best friend who, clearly a born editor, said “But nothing happens.”
I remember my heart sinking through the floor and my face going bright red, but back in class I read it again (with my head under my lift-top desk so the teacher wouldn’t see; remember when you thought they couldn’t see that the great slab of wood poking up into the air? LOL) and realized she was right.
The next day I handed my young editor friend a second draft with an additional tree with its own baby bird, and had given my original bird a mother who wouldn’t let her baby bird go to visit the other tree. The baby bird begged and begged then finally, after a few falls from the tree taught herself to fly across. Something happened. How she 1. didn’t die and 2. got back to the top of the tree were probably also my first glaring continuity errors.
It wasn’t until year 7, when I thought I’d like to write the next “Dark is Rising” sequence, that I borrowed a book on “The Quest Narrative” out of the Star of the Sea senior library and the handy graph of plot points (the only thing I really understood) reminded me of that day that I’d learned the first lesson of story structure, that day.
I’d love to hear from you: How did you first learn about beginnings, middles and ends?