Monday, January 14, 2008

Early Writings

I was thinking the other day about my early writings. They're lost unless, well, there's one box in the attic I need to check.

But I can still remember vividly the moments of their birth. I must have been in kindergarten for a while because I knew how to make letters. I just didn't know how to read or spell.

It was probably the absence of reading ability that spurred my creativity. I had a Tarzan coloring book, you see. My old man was not a strong reader of pulps in his day, lacking the dimes required for their purchase, but he read Tarzan as a kid and Dracula and a host of other books for boys of the late twenties and early thirties.

From one of my aunts, I got the story that a lot of kids in the family were scrapping over the Stoker novel when news of its adaptation as a film reached rural Louisiana.

Drac probably got a mention early in my childhood, but Tarzan was probably deemed a little more appropriate and thus the count had to wait until I was a teen.

Lord Greystoke, however, was in the house very early on. The coloring book I remember, which I can't find online, must have been a tie-in with the TV series because the illustrations included Jai, Tarzan's sidekick on the show, who, correct me if I'm wrong was a carry over from Tarzan Goes to India, right? The kid who played Jai on TV was somebody else in the Mike Henry Tarzan movies, though.

Anyway, I couldn't read the captions in the coloring book so while I colored everything magenta, my favorite color, I imagined my own stories to go with the pictures.

Magenta only came in a larger box of crayons and of course it was the first to be used up, and it was hard to convince my old man I needed a new box since I had hardly touched sepia and burnt sienna and why was Tarzan diving into a magenta river anyway?

Er, silt?

Anyway, I imagined my own stories and when my mother came home from teaching school I asked her to spell words for me and, in magenta of course, I wrote my own Tarzan captions, retelling a new story to go with the pictures. I don't remember much about what happened or if I improved on the coloring book's story.

What one I can remember is a bit of dialog: "It's pretty far to the village." Tarzan to Jai as he looked down from a tree.

I never said they were complex captions, but those were good times, and I guess that was when I got the spark.


Shauna Roberts said...

What a cute story.

I wonder what percentage of writers wrote their first stories in elementary school or earlier? I did as well.

Lana Gramlich said...

I liked magenta, too. The creativity of children is so wonderful. I love the idea of you writing your own captions.

Charles Gramlich said...

it's a long way to the village if you want to rock and roll. No Tarzan in our house. But there were stories about Saints. Probably a good thing I didn't add my own captions there. I might have been marked early (earlier) as a sinner.

Sidney said...

You're right, Shauna, I bet it is a high percentage.

Yeah, Lana, magenta rules. There's a cool Harry Chapin song about that kind of thing - "Red Flowers Are Red" or something like that.

Hey, Charles, isn't Rhythm of the Saints that Paul Simon album with the drums.

Erik Donald France said...

I love this post. Even as a kid, you were already a "doctor of letters" :->

Back in grade school, I slapped together something called "This is. . .," a poem about the environment called "America the Polluted" or something like that, and a VERY short "history" of the American Civil War. Weirdly enough, my core interests still include all three of these type deals.

AvDB said...

It wasn't my first story, but it's the one I long ago misplaced and seriously regret doing so. It was an assignment in middle school where we had to write a fairy tale. It was called, "Thank You, Ogre, Sir." The main characters were Basil, Wendell and Delbert. It had something to do with three sons being challenged by their father to confront an ogre for some treasure or another, and only the youngest succeeded--by finding the ogre's true weakness, politeness.

Its memory led me to write another fairy tale later in life, one that received a very personal (and from what I now know as a very good) rejection by the then editor of Harper Collins. Funny, the only positive rejection I've had has been for a story I've long scrapped.

Miladysa said...

In infant/junior school around 3pm the teacher would read out loud to the class. I remember The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe captured my imagination but the next book - The Weird Stone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner captured my soul. I wanted to write ever since.

Anonymous said...

The first one I remember was around 7th grade...I drew Flash vs. Quicksilver. The entire story fit on a single sheet of wide-lined paper.

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