I can’t resist a little follow-up from the post a couple of days ago. I pulled out “Sir Groofelis of Biglit” and the horse story (called “A Full Time Friend”) and tried to read them. What I discovered was that “Sir Groofelis” was a very short story, and “A Full Time Friend” was a very long story. Both were told almost entirely through dialogue. There was very little time spent on description or exposition.
Of course they were youthful attempts. In the case of “A Full Time Friend”, it was written stream of consciousness. I don’t think I had any outline or structure. So, from the point of view of trying to tell a story that way, it was quite um…interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang in there and read the whole thing. Maybe I will give it another try. But I found myself chuckling to myself as I’d read things and knew where the inspiration came from. Even after so many years, I can pick out the events in my horsey years that may have played into story points and character names.
There are a couple of more papers that I found in the pile from my grade school days. When I was a freshman in high school, I wrote a paper about Animation. I especially enjoyed writing this paper because I loved the subject matter, and I got a chance to talk to my father about it. He spent a short period of time as an animator for Walt Disney in 1940. While he was there, he went through the animation school and then worked on “Fantasia” and “Dumbo”.
It’s clear to me as I read this paper today, that my fondness for the topic made a difference. It’s also clear that the technical aspects of writing a scholarly research paper were not very sophisticated. I included drawings at the end to illustrate the steps in the animation process, and these hold up pretty well even 40+ years later. To my teacher’s credit, she didn’t over edit, although there was much she could have done. I don’t see a grade on the paper, but I’m pretty sure the grade was good.
The last blast from the past for now was a little story I wrote about the same time (1974) called “A Christmas Story”. I had completely forgotten about this. Wow, it was very different from the Animation paper. It actually read like a story that had a beginning, a middle and an end, intentionally. It was a third-person narrative about what Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were like in my memory. I placed the events when I was four years old. Some of the events were the result of stories my family told over the years, but it also is a pretty accurate memoir of the events that took place each year in our family.
Interestingly, it is all description and exposition unlike my previous writing attempts. I do think that the inspiration for this was a story my father wrote about his childhood memories. He didn’t write much. In fact, writing anything, including correspondence was something he had to work at. I never knew that about him until I began working on his archive and biography. But it occurs to me that he might not have had much confidence in his writing because he didn’t complete grade school. He left school after the eighth grade to begin working.
With hindsight, I think there was a spark in me to write while I was in grade school. But perhaps my maturity level wasn’t high enough to discipline myself to pursue it. Or more likely, music was my primary focus and I never considered writing as anything more than something fun to do, like so many other things that interested me (see my post on being an expert).
More next time on a change in my writing as I went onto higher education.