This is my second go-around with this blog hop business (not counting the story time hop) and I think I am catching on. The question for August is:
What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?
I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall my exact first piece of writing, but I do remember the first piece I submitted for submission. It was sometime during my incarceration in public school during the first grade.
I had penned and illustrated a wonderfully entertaining (so I was told) story titled The Adventures of Helen and Troy. The inspiration for the character names came from overhearing my father, who devoured all things history, talking about Helen of Troy, of ancient Greece fame.
I was not particularly captivated with the history, per se, but the idea of a beautiful woman and a wooden horse bringing down an empire set fire to my imagination. Thus was born the story of Helen and her flying wooden horse, Troy. And I had not even heard of Anne McCaffrey yet!
The delightful (so I was told) illustration featured Helen and Troy recapping an afternoon of crushing the world, while munching on sticky buns and sipping egg creams from tulip-shaped glasses. I was very particular about the shape of those glasses, because the local ice cream parlor served egg creams in them, but we did not have the financial resources to enjoy those kinds of treats.
My story, suitably printed in block letters on fat ruled paper, along with the illustration done in my beloved colored pencils, were submitted to Highlights Magazine. If you are not familiar with Highlights, it featured stories and activities for children and was famous for its Goofus and Gallant, a bad boy/good boy cartoon (guess which is which). It also invited submissions for the “Your Own Pages” feature, for drawings, poems, and stories by readers.
In the era of snail mail, it was several weeks before I heard anything. But finally, an envelope arrived, with the cute little Highlights logo in the corner. Since this is not America’s Got Talent, I will cut right to the chase. After thanking me for my submission, the neatly typed note informed me that the content of my submission was not “quite right” for Highlights Magazine [sound familiar?]. They were, I was further informed, looking for stories and illustrations that featured more “realistic” subjects.
Realistic? Right. Because we don’t want children putting any of their imagination into the stuff they submit for “Your Own Pages.” Irony, anybody?
I was, of course, crushed. But my father scoffed and opined that Highlights editors obviously knew nothing about history or they would have immediately recognized the connection between my story and Greek mythology. And my mother pointed out that Gallant was really just an Eddy Haskell, so magazine editors’ judgment was suspect in many ways. And not that I hold a grudge, or anything, but I never bought that insipid magazine for my daughter. And she still has an amazing imagination!
Now that I have retrieved this idea from the dark recesses of my mind, I think it might be a really great idea for a children’s book. Children with imagination, that is.
I raise my glass of Pinot Noir to them, and thank the universe that someone has the technological skills to pull this off.