Imagine, if you will, a nine year old boy. His blond hair sticks straight up in the back and it won’t lie straight no matter his mother’s attempts to get it to behave. It matches his personality almost exactly – spastic and loud and slightly crazy. Of course, you’d never know it if you weren’t around him at him; he’s a very shy little boy on the outside.
This little boy spends his days playing knights and dragons, protecting his sisters from the evil overlords and slaying his minions (because plastic swords are obviously the best way to kill the embodiment of evil).
Furthermore, imagine this little boy, lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. He’s tired as one can get, but he can’t fall asleep. He spends hours and hours, staring up at the ceiling, or at the glow-in-the-dark planets hanging above his dresser. The CD in the radio (that supposedly helps him fall asleep faster) has long since finished, and he can’t stir himself to go play it again.
He’s got all the songs memorized, after all, why play them on the radio when you can hear them perfectly in your mind?
And then he sparks on an idea.
All those times he slayed the dragon, beat the evil knight, killed the minions, stayed the mighty foes, all the time he spent constructing a massive castle out of cardboard and duct tape, only to watch as the massively outnumbered defenders lost to the conquerors.
What if those were real?
Now imagine this little boy the next night. His younger brother is in his bed across the room, snoring (his younger brother is the king of all snorers).
“Once upon a time,” the little boy whispers to his glow-in-the-dark planets, “there was a castle on the shores of the sea, a castle which was never defeated.”
And then, in his mind, this little boy unfolded a story of simple honor, renowned kings, dragons and wizards, dastardly villains and fighting for what is right.
This little boy read his little story in his mind every night, until he fell asleep.
Fast forward five months.
The great saga of the mighty castle (called Argoncoth, for your information) is complete in his mind, a tale worthy of the greatest bards to be sung at every feast in every palace in the universe.
And it’s fading from memory.
So this little boy – almost ten now – has another spectacular idea.
What if the story was a book?
He began to write. The little boy worked frantically, whenever he wasn’t saving his sisters from the newest threat, he sat at a little green and flaking white desk, scribbling in a college-ruled notebook. He captured all the details of his story in four of these notebooks, finishing after about eight months.
As he finished, the little boy realized he didn’t want to stop there.
He wanted to keep writing. More ideas flooded into his mind. He didn’t use them to fall asleep anymore – he had conquered that problem – instead he used them to fill up notebook after notebook.
Three years. Five novellas and two novels.
Almost a hundred thousand words.
Now flash forward four years.
Now the little boy is a gangly teenager, almost as tall as his dad and taller than his mother by a good eight inches. He towers over all of his friends, too, even the ones who have since graduated from school and gone off to college. His hair doesn’t stick up anymore (at least not as much), instead it curls when it gets longer than an inch or two.
He still writes, writes more than ever before, actually. In fact, he has completed four novels since and has plans for dozens more.
Looking back, this young man realizes his first stories aren’t as good as he once imagined. In fact, he knows they’re really just combinations of other stories he loved – simple plots of games and books and characters with names only a little different than those he admired.
He doesn’t like to talk about those novels, now. They’re a stack of notebooks in his closet, to be smiled at whenever he grabs nice shirt for church on Sundays.
But they were a start.
If he hadn’t been able to fall asleep that night, all those years ago, he might not have ever written for fun.
He might not be considering sending a novel to publishers or thinking about going to college to major in Creative Writing with a focus on Journalism.
He might not be what I’ve become.
(And so concludes a simple story of how I became a writer. It’s rather anti-climactic, don’t you think? What about you? What story makes yours with telling?)