My origin story began before I have any concrete memories and in a genre I don’t explore much anymore: ghost stories. My earliest memories of storytelling (because I began as a storyteller long before I could write) are of friends and cousins begging me to tell them ghost stories after we were supposed to go to sleep.
I recall fragments of a boat that swallows people and a chopped off hand that multiplies when dismembered. I was a strange child, though possibly those were influenced by camp stories and so came later.
I also told stories of the Emerald Fairy, which considering had read most of Andrew Lang’s fairy books might make you think of actual fairies. But no, the Emerald Fairy was more science fantasy than fairy tale. Someday I may revisit her stories, because they were fun. The stories were told in serial format, each one a self-contained adventure of her life on her planet. Here is a glimpse into her world, which, yes, I still remember:
Long before remembered history, Earth had a twin planet. Both planets enjoyed a golden age of prosperity, knowledge, and wonder. It was the time of Atlantis. But the people of Earth soon fell to squabbling. They brought violence and hatred into the world. To protect themselves from what seemed a fatal infection of the mind, Emerald Fairy’s people used some of their advanced technology to gate their whole planet to another dimension (and yes, this was well before StarGate as I was seven when her stories began).
However, the Emerald Fairy grew curious about the Earth and re-established a link through me to share her stories and learn of mine. I have several of her tales written out on loose-leaf yellow legal notepaper that I used to carry with me everywhere attached to a clipboard.
I remember artificially aging some pages with matches before writing poetry on them so they’d seem ancient. The amusing thing is those sheets (at least those I still have) actually are ancient and yellowed beyond even their yellow color now.
As origin stories go, it has its dark sides as well. These early tales I wrote in pencil on loose sheets, so most are smeared beyond recognition. Not that I think they were great works of literature, but rather it’s fun to revisit your early self to see how you’ve grown and find the roots to some ideas you are still exploring today.
You might guess with an origin story like this one, I always knew writing was in my blood, or rather storytelling, despite random punctuation and spelling that would rival works before a single spelling of words was decided upon. There’s something powerful in watching people’s eyes light up in the moment they see where you’re heading and have to keep in a chuckle, sigh, or tear. I don’t get to see that moment with my books, but I love to hear about it in reviews or notes to me.
Whether a treat or a torture, only you can decide, but here is one of my original short stories, influenced by the Andrew Lang fairy books. This one is still mostly readable, but you can probably tell how the paper has aged naturally. I promise you, my writing has improved. My handwriting, however, has worsened significantly. As a glimpse into my childhood mind, though, it’s precious. I can see the framework of the story (perhaps one of my first story synopses?). There’s an underlying message of adventure and how sometimes the rules are not to protect but to restrict.
So, how about you? If you write, what is a key moment in your origin story? And if you come as a reader, what is your earliest memory of reading/hearing a story that just might have sparked your love of reading?
Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Origin stories” — February’s topic in Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. To read more origin stories from authors at various stages in their careers, check out the links below (more to come as the month continues).