All superheroes have their origin story and since writing can be a heroic act, I thought I’d write mine down. Of course, The Amazing Adventures of… The Novelist! would be about the most boring comic book ever. (If I could draw, I would sketch panels that have me sitting at a desk, writing away, and my pen runs out of ink. Oh No! would pop out in big yellow letters. Will the day be saved?)
My first grade teacher, Ms. Babich, had black That Girl hair and full lips. (Ms. Babich would marry the next year and change her name, thereby saving herself from being a teacher named Babich.) For reading time, she’d hold the book in one hand and with the other, scratch slow circles on her leg, on her white panty hose.
The picture book story was about a turtle and a dove caught in a ferocious storm. The dove’s wings got tired from flying against the rain and the swimming turtle let the dove rest on his back. When the turtle got tired, the dove flew ahead, found land, then flew back for the turtle. They both made it to land and the day was saved. I guess the moral was about cooperation, and how everybody has their strengths.
But I got so bored.
I liked the thunderstorm and the dove but the turtle didn’t do much for me. Within a couple of months, I wrote the first White Wing the Dove story. (Since she was totally white, why just White Wing? Shrug. It made sense when I was seven.)
White Wing lived in a forest. She flew over the treetops watching over her animal friends and the little girl who lived at the edge of the woods. I think in the first story, White Wing saved the little girl from a poisonous snake by flying at it and flapping her wings. Another time, the danger was a bear. I wrote in pencil in a spiral notebook. I wrote two or three White Wing stories and one of my sisters might have drawn pictures to go with them; a bear, a fire. I showed the first one to people like you do something you made in school.
My mom thought it was a nice story. Our babysitter was skeptical; she said I must have copied it from a library book.
Later, one of my sisters got mad at me and tore them up, flushing bits of paper down the toilet. I tried to reproduce them and found with horror that stories only happen once and then they move on. I have one page left of the attempt, and that’s all I have of White Wing. I learned that it wasn’t worth much to show my stories to people. Better to keep them to myself. When I think of the White Wing stories, I feel warm sun on my face, and I’m flying with the dove over golden, late-summer fields, and everything is okay.
And I learned that relying on other people’s stories for my adventures left me unsatisfied.
Next up on My Origin Story: Part Two; Reading Charlotte’s Web
Next up on Devlin’s Blog: What Writers Can Learn From Eminem