I first discovered my love of writing at ten years of age. I was in the fourth grade at the time, the first year we had to contribute pieces to our school writing portfolio. This collection of documents would follow us through high school, and every few years we’d be evaluated on the writings we contributed and given one of four ratings: novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished. I loved writing pieces for my portfolio, particularly the fictional short story. Inspiration had struck, and I went with a new dream: the desire to be a writer.
Being young, I wrote stories about the things I knew best. Sometimes, this ended up as fanfiction. Other times, this led me to original ideas. Today, I’m going to talk about some of the original works that I created when I first fell in love with writing.
The Evil Arcade
When I was a kid, my stepdad worked in the mall arcade as an IT guy, fixing all the arcade machines. As a result, I spent quite a bit of time in the mall. I’d play in the arcade, go to the snack place to buy slushies, browse at the bookstore, and go to Radio Shack. Though I seriously have no idea what in the world I thought I was going to find at Radio Shack.
Anyway, I was inspired to write a story about a young boy who battled a dastardly mall-themed villain. This maniac commanded an army of robotic arcade machines and wielded as his weapon an endless supply of destructive slushies. The hero who dared to face him was armed with only one weapon – a magical arcade token that could be thrown like a shuriken, returned like a boomerang, and could multiply if instructed to do so in a rude, obnoxious way.
This piece was part of the reason I earned a distinguished rating on my fourth grade portfolio. Although I’m pretty sure if I were to go back and read it again now, the word “distinguished” would not come to mind…
School Supply Superheroes
Like with the arcade story, I tended to write about whatever was available to me. I’d just look around and think “well, that seems like a good thing to write about.” One day I did that and my eyes landed on my school supplies. If you went to elementary school in the nineties then you know what I’m talking about – the pencil box full of number 2 pencils, a pencil sharpener, ruler, tape, glue, and some brightly-colored erasers. That box inspired me to write a story about school supplies that battled for the fate of the world.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember all of my characters for this story. I know there were at least three, but I can only remember two with any kind of clarity. One was the tape, who could fire tape strips from his mouth to ensnare enemies or to stick to hard surfaces and swing around. The other was the pencil, who could wield graphite swords or cause graphite spikes to launch out of his body like porcupine spines. He also had a move where he could spin in a circle, firing out graphite spines and knocking all of his surrounding enemies aside (obviously the pencil was my favorite).
In my mind, I have a lot more images than words for this story, so I feel like the school supply superheroes were a comic series more so than a written one. While I’ve never seriously dabbled in comics, doodles and cartoons have been a pretty big part of my writing life throughout the years. I think this was the start of that.
The Ruling Stones
Okay, this is the one. The real deal, the whole shebang, the first thing I ever wrote that my kid self really felt had a lot of potential. Of course, literal author insertion was a serious problem for me up until (sadly) college. So I was the main character in this story, and a number of my friends and family rounded out the supporting cast. The people who were written into this tale would probably be disturbed to know I was writing about them – most of them only knew me casually and would probably think it was super weird.
Anyway, the concept behind the Ruling Stones was this: five magical stones were hidden away in the world, each one empowered with a certain element. There was the Shining Stone, the Fire Stone, the Stone of Cold, the Thunder Stone, and the Spirit Stone, representing light, fire, ice, lightning, and life respectively. When the stones are discovered, they choose five people to wield them against the forces of darkness.
Each stone gives its wielder powers related to the element. Every kid has a preferred weapon, and the weapon in combination with the power of the stone creates a magical weapon. These magical weapons included a whip of pure light, small bombs that froze whatever they hit, and a suit of armor that stole some life energy by any enemy that hit it. In addition to empowering the weapons, each stone slowly caused the wielder to evolve over time. These mutations were ugly and painful, but made the wielders a lot more powerful.
The world of the Ruling Stones was definitely the most in-depth world I made as a kid, and I actually wrote two stories in this setting. The second one had some new characters while returning characters wielded the same stones they had in the past. New stone wielders had different abilities from their predecessors, which created some variety in the party mechanics between the two stories. There were also a lot more female characters in the sequel, whereas in the first story I only had male heroes.
Anyway, those are a few stories I wrote as a kid. But why talk about them? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do with my life. Not to get too deep or anything, but I’m somewhat dissatisfied with my current career and I really want to get out of the warehouse business. Writing has been my dream since I was a kid; when I was writing Star Wars fanfic and making up stories about pencil swordsmen and magical rocks that gave me superpowers, I imagined how great it would be for kids everywhere to read those stories. For a long time that desire took a back seat, but lately I’ve really been feeling the desire to be a published writer. I know writing is not a reliable career, and there’s no such thing as a perfect job – work is a four letter word, after all. But I care a lot about doing this. So as I dedicate myself seriously to writing, I thought it would be fun to look back on the things I’ve written in the past. Both as a reflection on where I’m coming from, and as a potential source of inspiration.
If you’ve enjoyed me reminiscing today, then you should have fun tomorrow as I reminisce on the things I wrote during another key phase in my writing life – high school. If you, like me, wrote a lot of stuff when you were a kid, tell me about it in the comments. I love hearing ideas from the mouths of babes, and it should be a lot of fun to think back on the things we all wrote when we “didn’t know any better.”