Before I learned to write my name I spent hours with a box of crayons and cheap coloring books. My grandparents were my main suppliers of said drug of choice. I even remember an upstairs neighbor kid showing me how much cooler my coloring would look if first I outlined the area in the color I was going to use for the fill-in part. Wow. I do remember someone criticizing me for coloring outside the lines. I was four. I still say Screw You (or harsher words) about that whole experience. How can people do that to little kids? But that’s for another blog entry…
When I learned to actually write, I would put words down on those big lined sheets you use to learn your letters. Those limited words became stories in my head that I would then act out with my stuffed animals or my Barbie doll. I spent hours alone building “houses” for them all. I would use cheap Lego knock-offs to build furniture for them, and my mother’s “double album” LP covers to form a maze of rooms. Then the stories would go on and on until it was time to clean up. I’d start it all over again the next day.
Once I was actually able to form full sentences, I began to write stories about animals, using a big pad of paper and one of those chunky pencils in my left hand with a giant eraser clutched in my right. My inner editor was quite a tyrant even back then.
Soon my stories became more about people such as Davy Jones and the other Monkees, The Beatles, and the imaginary friends I wished were more vocal. I still wrote about animals but they were more like Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Snoopy.
Sometime in junior high school (now referred to as middle school here in the states), I developed a group of friends who quickly became fans of my stories. Sadly, David Cassidy would figure heavily in these stories (I’m sorry, Davy Jones, but at that point you had disappeared from the magazines and television and this girl was pretty much dirt poor – oh, and there was no internet back then to keep up with all the favs).
Over the course of many school years I wrote thousands upon thousands of pages of stories. You think I’m exaggerating? Well, I remember having to burn about ten or more pads of paper that each said 500 sheets on the front (do they even make spiral notebooks of that size these days?); they were completely filled with words. Not to mention the bazillion pens I went through, the caps all tossed in a shoebox because they just bugged me. My pen of choice? That one up there on the photo – plain, cheap Bic. Why? Because I could tell ahead of time when the ink would run out, so I could be prepared with a new pen even if the drainage happened in the wee hours of the morning.
Then I graduated high school and entered the world of reality. There was no time for stories, sadly. There was typing, yes, but that was at work and it was really boring shit about insurance. But BOY did I read books! I read everything I could get my hands on from the library, my grandmother’s and mother’s stashes of cheap paperbacks, and *gasp* Used Book Stores. Is there nothing better than a Used Book Store? I haven’t found anything yet.
When my son was born, I read stories to him all the time, but my own storytelling abilities had staled. In 2008, when my son was nearly grown, someone told me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The premise is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Well, I wrote my first and it really sucked. I wrote several more over the years and they too sucked. I’ve saved them all, though, in the hopes that perhaps I can rewrite them into something people might enjoy.
Davy Jones passed in 2012 and soon after, a group of us got very involved in fundraising for his herd and the charity set up by his daughters to care for that herd – The Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation (DJEMF.com). I didn’t concentrate too hard on NaNo at the time because we were so unbelievably busy working on projects for DJEMF.
It was a magical moment during NaNoWriMo 2014 when an idea for a new Davy Jones story grabbed me by the writing hand and held them to my keyboard for the entire thirty days. I wondered, could this be a fundraising idea? Would people think I considered myself some expert author, when in fact I’m just a mediocre storyteller? My friends who had been reading parts of my novel encouraged me and A Monkee On My Shoulder was born, published nine months from the first day of that NaNo.
Midway through the editing process (a really grueling process, frankly), the idea for a sequel was born. The working title is A Monkee On My Back and will begin creeping out of my imagination to my hands on the keyboard again. Do I have a second novel in me? I think I do. Can I finish it in the same amount of time? I think I can. What, am I channeling The Little Engine That Could? You bet I am! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
Wish me luck! And if you’re on NaNoWriMo.org, my username is ‘starrling’ – look me up!