Stories have always been important to me. There isn’t a time I can recall when stories weren’t running through my head. I remember being 4 or 5 and telling my mum after dinner that I wanted to go to bed right away because the night before I had dreamt about a bear and an Indian (yes, that’s the word I used, it was the only one I knew). The animal and the man were friends and were having such fun together that I wanted to rush back to sleep so that I could dream about the two of them again. I realized I wanted to be part of their adventure.
That’s what a good story does. It draws us in. Makes us feel we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
From dreams to playtime, I soon realized I could be the author of my own adventures.
Barbie was the lead protagonist in all my stories that played out on my bedroom floor. You would think that in a house full of five children I would have been playing with one of my many siblings. Nope – I liked playing by myself because in my imagination I could be anything or do anything. The stories and their outcome were always my own.
It wasn’t until I was 7 or 8 before I actually wrote my first story and shared it with others. I carefully hand printed a story that was playing out in my head and put it down on a scrap of paper I’d found lying around our house. It was about a thief named Louie. He was the leader of a gang of bad guys. I can’t remember what he stole but I know he got caught. In my world, the bad guys always have to pay for the harm they do to others.
I’m sure I had been influenced by the Flintstone’s episode of 88 Fingers Louie who tried to sell Fred a hot piano as an anniversary gift for Wilma.
You know the one – where Fred and Barney and friends serenade Wilma with the catchy tune:
“Happy Anniversary…Happy Anniversary…Happy Anniversary… Happy Anniversary!”
That’s the amazing thing about a kid’s imagination; it is highly susceptible to cultural influences – and to praise.
My parents had fawned over my initial draft; they told me what a good job I had done and showed it to my grandparents. But when I discovered that the one and only copy of my handwritten story was nowhere to be found (likely thrown out by my minimalist mother), I carefully hand wrote out another draft. The story wasn’t exactly the same as the first, but Louie was still the central character and he still got caught in the end. (Sadly, that draft too was discarded so the scrap of paper has become a wisp of nostalgia).
Another early story I remember writing that drew some positive reaction was in grade four when I was nine. My teacher had drawn a few squiggly lines on some carbon paper:
She asked us to draw a picture from those lines and write a story to go with the picture.
While everyone else in the class was drawing dinosaurs and writing stories about the extinct creature…
I made a crown and wrote a story about a king:
Apparently I was the only one to do so. My teacher singled me out in the class for my creativity.
I learned two things from these experiences:
- One, be original. Think differently from others to stand out. Don’t accept the ordinary. Go beyond. Be bold enough to take a different path.
- And two, be tenacious. Stay true to your passion. If you don’t get it right the first time, try again. Persistence pays off. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect but perfect practice helps you learn.
I didn’t stop with the first couple of stories I wrote. I kept going. Sure, over time the focus of my writing evolved from fictional stories I wrote for myself, to essays I wrote for school, to articles I wrote for newspaper publications, to corporate messaging.
Now, I’m learning to write for the online world. This blog is just one example.
Check out the curated digital story I put together using Storify and published on Twitter: https://storify.com/ml_frazer/thebachelor-down-to-the-final-6-before-the-hometow