Thursday, September 11, 2008

S.E. Hinton, eat your heart out

As these school journal entries make clear, I was beginning to have a somewhat inflated opinion of my writing. And—because I was 10—I really believed I had a shot at getting my book published. Yes, the book in which fourth graders rustle up some frighteningly authentic prostitute costumes, spread poo-eating rumors about a girl whose last name is Terd, and manage to not only hollow out a tree but also wire it with electricity like they were the freaking rats of NIMH. I'm sure Dell Yearling would have been all over it!

4/15/88
Journal topic:
"Something about myself"

Tawana
[our neighbor, who was in middle school at this point] came over yesterday and said I better be an author or she'd kill me. On the phone she was telling someone that I write books and all that. Then she asked me to help her write a poem. She's crazy.

The story I'm working on now seems like it'll never be finished. If my mom and I can find a publisher who does kid's stories, we might send them some of mine.

"A publisher who does kids' stories." I think that's some sort of mythical creature.

I like to draw, too. If I get a book published, I'll do the pictures also. I drew a picture of my friend, Caitlin. It came out good. One the other hand, the picture of Courtney was terrible........... I'll just keep trying.

We must have had to share these journal entries with a classmate and then report back because at the bottom it says:

Ché likes to work with her hands. She wants to be an olympic skater and win 1,000 gold medals or be an artist.

A thousand gold medals? Looks like I wasn't the only one with slightly unrealistic career goals.

4/18/88 Journal topic: "Careers"

I want to be an author and an artist. I like to draw and write. People like my stories. I helped my friend write a poem for homework. Her teacher thought she copied it out of a book. Ha!

Nope, she just had a fourth grader write it for her. That's not cheating, right?

I like to work with kids. My mom says I'm good with little kids. We have a pre-school in our basement. My brother and his friends love it! We help them count, learn the alphabet, paint, sing, and lots more!

This was an unofficial preschool run by my sister and me; we pretty much forced my brother and his friends to attend.

There really isn't a possible way to combine the two that I can think of. Then again, there's no reason why I can't do both. Teach and then draw and write in my spare time. Well, I'll figure something out!

I hate to break it to you, fourth-grade me, but the "writing in my spare time" thing has never worked out that well for me. Unless this blog counts! And I'm not a teacher, but I have had a bizarre combination of publishing and childcare jobs over the years (fortunately leaning more toward the publishing end as of late).

But my journal was not just about expounding upon my literary prowess. It was also a good chance to do some writing exercises during school hours. Like character sketches... of inanimate, hot pink objects.

11/17/87
No journal topic listed, so God only knows how I came up with this brilliance

Hi! I'm Chrissy, a hot pink kite. Mariam got me for her birthday last month. She was so exited that I couldn't believe it.
[Me neither—it's a KITE, for God's sake!] I thought, oh it's just one of those kids my parents told me about.

At least once a week
[what kind of windy-ass city do they live in?] Mariam takes me to the park where I float and twist on a string. Not that it's bad because I really do like it. I think soaring in the sky is really very peaceful. If I don't get stuck in a tree I enjoy it very much.

When your up there in the sky the view is great. No matter which way Mariam takes me, I always turn around to look at the park. The trees with their yellow, red, and orange leaves are so beautiful. There is a small stream that glistens in the sun. The cool, crisp air all around me.... Oh, Mariam is pulling me down. 'Bye.

But if the musings of Chrissy the Hot Pink Kite aren't ground-breaking enough for you, I also tried to branch out into other genres...

3/4/88
Journal topic: "An adventure"


The whole language arts class was going on a field trip in the mountains. A weekend trip but, there was a girls' side and a boys' side.
[There will be no funny business on this field trip!] When we got back we would write about it in our journals.

"The teacher fell in this hole!" someone yelled. A few people cheered. "No! Really she did. With all the food too." someone else agreed. Then a few people tried to push Tyniesha some other people into a crack. We aren't gonna make it, I thought.

Tyniesha was actually a friend of mine, but I guess we weren't getting along that day. Sorry, Ty!

The minutes seemed like hours now. Some boys started playing football. Some girls rolled their eyes. "We hafta get her out of there." someone announced. "How?" asked some kids. "Do we have any rope?" "She's got it down there! So, no, we don't." "I have an idea. Gimme that football." They threw the football down. Mrs. Brennan tied the rope around it and threw it back up. We all helped her up. "Can we go home?" someone asked.

Erm, that was more like "problem solving" than "adventure." Let's try this again.

12/4/87
Journal topic: "Space travel"


The people on my spaceship are running around like wild because of one little mal-function. Even my best member of the crew refuses to get even the slightest bit close to that area. I don't know what has come over everyone. They don't run around, busy at work, anymore. Instead they just sit around, white. They barely speak!

I've had enough of this. I am the captain and I can do what I want. I get on the radio and to the scientist back on earth. I tell him our problem and he says it's natural for my crew to act like that. I tell him I don't like natural. We talk for about two hours until we finally have our problem solved.

I tell the crew just what to do. I am surprised at their enthusiasm. Soon they are back on their feet and working harder than ever. I can't believe what a little mal-function can do!

I don't like natural!

Okay, so I was not cut out for action-adventure writing. I even "girl"ed this journal entry up by doodling the following at the bottom:

NEXT TIME: Guest author Carey's fourth grade masterpiece, the sarcastically titled Katie the Great, in which Little Debbie snack cakes play a pivotal role. You don't want to miss it!

5 comments:

AC said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who honestly thought I'd get my "books" published when I was, like, 11. I mean, all you have to do is send your stories off to the publisher and they fall in love with them and you become famous, right?

zanne said...

Writing in my spare time hasn't worked for me, either.

I thought the kite story was cute!

carey said...

i was also convinced i'd be published by, like, twelve at the latest. d'oh.

Kristin said...

First of all I am really loving this.

Secondly, I have yet to locate my old stories but I do have a blog where I posted my old diary entries.

I would be interested in being a guest author if you're OK that they are already on my blog (which, seriously, no one reads). If not all the entries, I was thinking mainly of just the incredibly over the top poem I wrote for my crush.

It is linked here though.

Cory said...

I def. wrote an unrealistic "adventure story" back in the day (I was in fifth grade) as well. In my story, three of my friends and I decided to sneak into a suspicious semi-truck, got caught (obviously) when the truck stopped at a shady factory, were thrown in cages at said factory, escaped our cages and stumbled upon some pipes used to dump chemicals somewhere, climbed into the pipes (yes, with the chemicals) and ended up in the mountains, where the chemicals were being dumped. Yes, it's so believable, I know.

Once in the mountains, we were separated by, among other things, a broken rope bridge and a waterfall. Later, we were forced to survive in the wild against mountain lions and cobras until we were finally rescued. Yes, it was as ludicrous as it sounds.

Apparently, I thought this was such a good idea that I wrote a sequel, only this time we were involved in a plane crash. We landed on an island, where weird stuff happened involving the same shady company. It was sort of like Lost, only not as good. That story sucked even more ass than the original, so I wrote a hasty conclusion where we almost died by drowning when the island flooded. We were rescued in the end, of course.

Sorry for the long comment. I wasn't the only one who tried (in vain) to write exciting adventure stories.