Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This I Believe

NOTE: Another bit for my Foundations English class.

Used under the fair use doctrine for commentary purposes.

I sat in the back of Mrs. Barrett’s third grade classroom, next to the bookshelf.

When I got my school work done – and sometimes even before it was finished – I’d pull a book off the shelf to read. There I found the magical worlds of Robert C. O’Brien, Marie McSwigan, Beverly Cleary, Alexander Key.

As I wondered at a new world alongside Jon O’Connor, as I tagged along in the background as Henry Huggins romped with Ribsy, as I sat beside Mrs. Frisby in the rats’ library, rapt at the story of the rats of NIMH, I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Then I promptly did nothing about it.

Oh, I did little things. A poem here, a short story there. But through several fits and starts, I never did what I set out to do, there in the back corner of Mrs. Barrett’s classroom at Lincoln Elementary.

Until 2010.

By then, I had a third-grader of my own, plus two other children. I was writing – but as a technical writer at a Department of Energy laboratory. During a lunch break in late January, however, I sat at my computer mulling the madelines of memory. I pecked out a few hundred words: two boys, bored at living in their primitive village, longing instead to climb the cliffs that ringed them in and climb toward the stars, then over and out the green pass that led to the world beyond.

Maybe, I thought, I have something.

So the next day, at lunch, I wrote some more.

Each day, it became an obsession. Write a few more hundred words about these curious boys, now departed from the only home they’ve known into a mysterious school training them to become –

I didn’t know. I kept writing, on the bus rides home, late into the night on weekends. And at lunches. Many lunches. I posted snippets of this growing story on my blog. If anyone ever read them, I didn’t know it. I knew a third-grader who was reading them. And he kept insisting, staring at those words in the ethers, that the story continue.

It did.

By January 2011, those first few hundred words turned into 114,000 words.

I’d written a novel.

It’s unpublished. It’s unedited. It’s raw. But there, in that little folder on my desktop, in that binder at home, on the thumb drives were I’ve stored it, my first novel awaits the finishing touch that may some day lead it to sit on a bookshelf in the back corner of some dusty classroom where another kid will pull it off the shelf and fall into the world I created because that third-grader who still loves the rats of NIMH told me I had to do it.

I believe, with the proper tools and motivation, one person can indeed move a mountain. Or feed the inner muse-child, staring longingly at the shelf of books not yet written.

No comments: