once upon a time

Is waxing nostalgic a common side effect of teaching creative writing? If so, I’ve got it bad. And Jennifer Hillier’s recent inspirational post hasn’t helped matters any.

Now all I can think about as I meet with my junior high writers is how, when I was twelve years old, I had already grown tired of the repetitive Hardy Boys mysteries and decided to write stories of my own...

Here are a couple cringe-worthy openings from my first fledgling attempts:

It was a light rain that fell from the night sky to the busy streets of New York City. The year was 1931, and the prices were as high as my salary was low. Like I said before, it was a light rain that washed the dirty streets and sidewalks, and the slime rushed into the gutters.

Apparently, I had seen a Bogart film or two.

In a small village called Shillingham there lived a poor little man by the name of Brently Lashinghoe. He lived in a small shack toward the outskirts of the village and made his living by playing the violin. On cool summer evening he would play until the village fell asleep. Then, the next day, he would go from door to door saying, “I played until thee fell asleep. Will thee not give me a shilling or two to feed my skin and bones?” But every home slammed their door in his face.

“Thee.” Wow.

Publication never crossed my mind at the time—and for good reason. I just liked making up stories, and I was blessed to have parents who showed an interest in my work. Now it’s my turn to do the same for my students. And to encourage them never to throw anything away, no matter how bad it is.

Unless it’s really, really, bad.
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