I’ve been a writer since my first elementary school creative writing assignment, which was in Fifth Grade at Joshua Circle Elementary School in Hesperia, California. The story was an amateurish schoolboy attempt at writing an original fairy tale.
The story involved a King, some gold, and a con man. It had a twist ending, which was not foreshadowed in the slightest, but I loved the Brothers Grimm, the Twilight Zone, and O Henry, so ending the tale with a twist was crucial.
My teacher praised me. My grandma and grandpa praised me, too, but they were not at all surprised by my budding abilities. Since Second Grade, I’d pored through my both my grandparents’ encyclopedia and their Harvard Classics collection, a collection which included Shakespeare, Plutarch, my idol Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and more. I read everything I could find by Mark Twain and Lewis Carroll. I was off to a good start before I even set pencil to paper.
It took a while to realize that I wanted to write. My original career option was to be an Old West gunfighter. It took me a few years to realize that rolling from town to town shooting people for money was not a viable career choice. Then I realized I may not be able to be a gunfighter, but I could write stories about gunfighters, which would be even better because no one actually would have to die, least of all me.
The story means that the hero lives forever. The story makes the hero immortal like Jesus, Santa Claus, or Julius Caesar. In Old West lingo, it’s better to write Dime Novels who about Wild Bill than it is to be Wild Bill.
Storytellers hold the power of life and death over their creations. A real-life hero can die but once, but then that hero’s power passes to those who tell his or her story, and, in that way, that hero dies over and over and over again, like Jesus, Billy the Kid, or Bambi’s Mom.
Which brings me to the next subject in this series: the impact of the Western story on this writer’s life. But I’ll save that all for Pt. 2 in this series.