Thursday, April 16, 2015

the story of my write (the 1000th cloud)

What to do for a post that marks your 1000th time you've hit "publish"?  After tossing around a few ideas, starting a few posts and then tossing a few more ideas, I decided I wanted to go back and remember how all of this got started... no, not in 2005, when the blog started--I mean, back to 1982, when I first realized I liked writing.  This post is broken up into two parts for easier reading, because I'm always too wordy.  Oh, and thanks for coming back here day after day...

How did you start writing?  I mean, if you are a writer, and I know a lot of you are.  Since I started this blog in 2005, oh, you know, ONE THOUSAND posts ago, I think another thousand people that I know have started a blog of their own... some have kept going and make for a good read, and others have done one, two, maybe five posts and it sits forgotten in the graveyard of good intentions--the blogsite edition.

Writing is a funny thing... not everyone can do it, though there are far more people who think they can (and thereby do) than actually can (and shouldn't).  I lost a bet on our podcast, The Deucecast Movie Show, and was forced to watch a Paris Hilton film called "The Hillz" (yes, with a Z).  The screenwriter is a fella named Saran Barnun, and if this film's script is to be used as evidence, Saran is someone who thinks he can write... but probably shouldn't.  Then again, I should never sing nor act, but I attempt both, so there's that...

I'm not saying I'm the end all be all, please don't get me wrong.  At no point will I wave this blog in front of anyone and say "see this!  look what I wrote!  I'm the Grisham/King/Rowling heir apparent!!" or anything of the kind, but... but I think I'm not bad at it.  Ten years later, I've got over 230K views on this site, so that's gotta count for something, right?  Maybe?  Humblebrag, indeed.

My first writing venture was when I was in 2nd grade... I decided I wanted to write a play for some strange reason, and had titled it "The Prince & the Princess", because at 7, I was striving for originality.  Once I revealed my plan to do so, several of my classmates were pretty excited about being it it.  Melissa Gonzalez and Tony Sanchez wanted to be the leads, though I cannot remember if I casted them or Melissa just insisted... doesn't matter, especially when you see how this ended. 

Becky Rocha was my villain, my evil witch... now this was a part she wanted because she was all into the bad guys in stuff.  I don't think she grew up to be Marilyn Manson (we all know that it was Paul from The Wonder Years that turned into Marilyn Manson!  Wait... what?) or anything, she was just 7 and thought the witch part would be cool.

I remember writing this bit of dialogue...

The Prince:  Hello, my princess.  You are very pretty!
The Princess:  Thank you!  I think you are cute too!
The Witch, over in the bushes:  I don't like you or you, and I'll get you!

That's it. 

In my mind I had this vision of a princess in some sort of mortal danger, and a dashing prince from a far away land had come to rescue her from the clutches of the evil, and green (because when you are 7, witches look like the Wicked Witch of the West, not all cutesy and patootsie like Hermione Granger).  Also, I'm really not sure where I was going to get the means to produce such a stage play that at the least, would require a battle scene between the good guy and bad chick, but I figured I would think of something.  And honestly, I think I would have.  

SIDEBAR:  It's important to note that I had never seen Sleeping Beauty, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella or any of those movies that would have likely inspired me to such ideas.

So the script wasn't much to go on, but didn't stop me from calling a practice at recess.  Separate 2nd graders from their recess time and the response is never favorable.  So 7 year old d$ calls Melissa, Tony, Becky and Brian Bruner (my 2nd grade best friend who wanted to help) over by the school wall, where there is some open space for practice--with no script beyond three lines--and they grumble and mumble and complain.  

Sometimes I cannot remember what I had for lunch the day before, but I vividly remember that 32 years ago, Melissa said to me, "What are we doing here?  This is stupid!!" and I replied, "I made you come over here so... you could go play!"  And they did.  Thus ended "The Prince & the Princess".

Somewhere in the middle of 2nd grade, I also created a cast of comic characters.  Now, for some reason, I decided to take Gonzo from The Muppets, make him taller, sharpen his beak a little, make him not as silly and use him as a character, and yet, still call him Gonzo... I didn't really know what "plagiarism" was back then, so grant me that, if ya don't mind...

This was a drawing I did this morning, and I think I'm
pretty dead on as to what they looked like
Anyway, rather than model the rest of the gang after The Muppets, I actually drew from the Archie comics gang, and so in 2nd grade, I began to draw and write a series of short comics featuring Chip the Bird, Freddie the Alligator, Debbie the Rabbit, I Can't Remember His Name the Cat and a few others that I also cannot possibly remember at this time... I think I actually copied some stories from Archie Comics (even at a young age, I had a pretty good sized collection--now I think I have about 50 various digests, comics and trade paperbacks... but that's another blog...)

Smashcut to three years later, I've left Ridgetop Elementary School in Austin, Texas, and am now residing in Mrs Wikel's 5th grade class at Samson Elementary School (I moved in the middle of my 4th grade year), and am still writing random things.  I think I wrote a poem to Misty Kimble, my first ever crush that wasn't Jo from Facts of Life, and I always was ready in Mrs Wikel's writing assignments that forced us to use vocabulary words from the week.  I even wrote a two page story in ten minutes once because I had procrastinated the assignment until literally the last minute, and as I got up to read it, I had to sorta make up the last sentence or two, then go back to my desk and scribble it down before turning it in.  #HumbleBrag indeed.

Transformers were all the rage when it came to being a kid, as was a book entitled "How to Eat Fried Worms".  So, I decided to write a take off of it called "How to Eat Fried Transformers".  Same concept, except the kids are different, and they are eating... you guessed it, Transformers.  And it was a complete story.  A terrible, stupid, ridiculous story, but still a story.

I also started getting into comic books, so naturally, I wanted to draw my own... so, I created... wait for it... wait for it... The Foodformers.  And yes, this is just like it sounds... food that turned into robots. 

Read that again. 


That turned into robots.

I think I'll talk about the war between the Fruitibots and the Veggiecons on Dinnertrion in a different post, for the sake of not making this post 15K words...

Back in the day, networks would
make and air TV movies that
featured stars from the most popular
shows of the day... this was always
my favorite, mostly because of
the Nancy McKeon angle.
In junior high, I had a group of friends that I wrote about--specifically, I wrote them into stories, usually based on a movie I had seen recently... using my buddies Daniel, Clay, Greg, Jason, Monty and sometimes Chad, Michael & Johnny, through the glory of "Borrowed Fiction", we had a Goonies type adventure, a Commando mission where we rescued Monty from a bad guy (and I flew a plane!), a cruise caper and my favorite, a summer camp story with some elements (re: a heavy majority) borrowed from the movie "Poison Ivy".  No, not that one, I mean this one.  In that one, Daniel made out with a chick, Clay and Monty got into a karate battle with a bully, some chick named Lisa kissed me on the cheek and Greg met Millicent, and they ate cake.  I'm not making any of this up--this is directly from my memory.  Promise. 

And then, one night in 1990, I was spending the night at the aforementioned Greg's house.  He had a computer in his room, with this black screen and orange letters, which was all well and good--he also had this new thing called "Prodigy", which allowed me to get on this "on the line" thing through the telephone... but more impressive to me was the ability to type--not handwrite--things. 

SIDEBAR:  I had learned to type for the most part using the electric typewriter my parents had given me for my birthday some years before... I would end up taking typing classes in Mrs. Rials class a year or two later, but for now, it was a slower type and even some finger pecking.

Late in the evening, maybe 11p, or midnight, Greg was long asleep, and I sat down at his computer.  With the orange cursor blinking, I typed the words, "Dayton's Quest". 

I titled it "Dayton's Quest" before I even had a story, though like some writers, I knew what the story was before I typed a single letter. Heck, I had an ending, and even most of a middle, I just had to start and get the reader there.

So for the next three hours, I told the story of a villager named Dayton Petrydish, and his adventures with his best friend Flessa, as they attempted to rescue the fair Princess from the evil clutches of a bad guy who's name escapes me--and somewhere along the way, there was a wizard named Vernjox, a special sword and a wedding at the end where Vernjox turned into a condor and flew away.

It was hokey, and silly and cheesy.  And when I realized about 4am that I had no way of taking this story home, because he didn't have a printer... like a plunger, I didn't realize I needed it until I needed it.  I fell asleep exhausted, and when Greg and I awoke the next morning, he agreed to let me come back the next week so I could write the story down. And that's what I did the next weekend, over the course of 2 hours on a Saturday, I transcribed the story from the screen to 24 pieces of regular lined loose leaf paper.

"Dayton's Quest" was important, because it was my first real, true piece of fiction, fiction that didn't involve anyone I knew, fiction that required me to discuss the characters, describe them, build them for the reader...  this wasn't like writing little one and two page stories in 5th grade using vocabulary words, this was a real short story.  It helped me understand, even if I didn't realize it then, that I had a knack for it. 

A year or two later, in December of '92, I believe, Mrs. Daniels asked us to set a goal for the new year.   Some people wrote down "Lose 10 pounds" and someone else wrote "Save up for (whatever they were saving for)" and another jotted down, "Learn guitar".  I was hoping that Julie Wise would write down "Go out with d$" because that would have been the easiest A she'd ever earned, but alas.  For me, I wrote down my goal to say "Write a 150 page story". 

Turns out, Mrs. Daniels took these very seriously, and gave us three weeks to finish the assignment.  After much protest by everyone in the class--especially those who wrote down unrealistic goals of learning to tap dance or hiking some mountainous trail--we were told we had to show the effort.  So, I took "Dayton's Quest" from 24 pages to 138 pages.  

The battle scenes got a little longer, the climax was a little longer and more tense, the romantic build up between the Princess CannotRememberHerName and Dayton was a little sweeter, I think I threw in a subplot with best friend Flessa and more... I was still 12 pages short, so I then tacked on another short story, "The Long and Winding Road" (more on that one later) to the end of it, making it a total of 152 pages long... and I got an A.  Woot. 

So there's the first part of my writing story.  The second part will be here in a few days, so I hope you come back to see me again... and let me know--are you a writer?  And how did you get started?


  1. I started writing some poetry during the depressing days of my youth. I think it pretty good, but you have to be gothic to appreciate it. I have been a story teller my whole life because I moved around so much with being a military kid. It has been pretty natural for me. Writing has been a challenge. Since I joined the Acuff groups and read a book by Jeff Goins (You are a Writer) I have become a writer and soon to be author! Great post! Glad to be one of the 200K views on your blog!

  2. I also read You Are a Writer... good practical advice from Goins. And I look forward to your authorship, and hope that i can move that direction soon!

  3. Dave, your blog is great! I'm interested in Dayton's Quest. Can you please email me at Would like to ask you something that may pique your interest. Thanks!


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