My first published work, The Christmas Caper, appeared in 1986 and was produced by Walcott Wonderbooks, my third grade teacher, Miss Zook's* classroom publishing company. The Christmas Caper was a picture book about a chunk of Halley's Comet crashing into my front yard one winter's night near Christmas. I know it passed us in February of 1986, but cut me some slack. Also, I know a chunk of Halley's Comet falling from the sky and landing in a front yard in a trailer park in Walcott, IA would have been noticed. Cut me some slack. I was 9. Anyway, snow falls after it crashes, covering it.
The next day, my sisters, and I make a snowman out of the snow resting atop this magical, mystical space rock. Naturally, the snowman comes to life and runs off. It eventually kidnaps one of my sisters because every good story has a villain. So my remaining sister, my cousins, and I fight it to save her. We create elaborate plans and eventually battle him, save my sister, and win the day. We all live happily ever after, except the snowman who we cut into pieces and melt in a fireplace because he was space evil. Space evil, as everyone knows, is far more serious than regular or "Earthan" evil.
It is a simple story from a kid with a vivid imagination and fascination with anything monstrous.
I can still remember two things clearly about crafting that weird little sci-fi/horror: 1) I scared myself drawing the snowman's angry face and 2) I was mesmerized by the sound of those typewriter keys and that DING! as I finished a line. I was entranced by the smell of the ink. I was in love with the feel of my fingers as they moved across the keys.... I guess that's 4 things. Sorry, I'm a writer not a mathematician.
I had enjoyed reading and writing before that, but the combination of everything that had to do with the typewriter and seeing the actual finished product in my hand might have been the trigger that made me realize I'm a writer.
Come back on 7/21 to see what happened next....
*Can you imagine what Miss Zook had to go through in order to put one of these things together for every student in her class? That's teaching folks.
I used to blog quite a bit. I had an editor years ago who told me I had to have an internet presence. As much as I disliked the idea of regularly writing modern personal essays (because that's basically what a blog is), I sucked it up and did it, writing about teaching, parenting, writing, politicking, and a little bit of everything else. It was eclectic at best and insane at worst. As time went on and I became more engrossed in writing and teaching that actually made money, that I didn't stress over, that didn't seem forced, I let the blog fall to the wayside. One night, in a mad fit, I deleted the whole thing. "I'm done with this nonsense," I told myself.
Now I'm back.
This time though, in order to keep away that strange "this is forced" feeling, I have a specific goal for my blog. I'm tracking my progress as I search for an agent for my latest novel. Anyone who wants to come with me is welcome. I'm hoping that getting my thoughts, processes, and ideas down here, in a public forum, will help all of us. After all, maybe someone will read a post and see a glaring mistake--a distinct possibility--and can share that knowledge with me and anyone following. Nothing I have done to get here or will do in the future is an exact science. Chances are, as I go, I may even ask my readers a few questions....
Anyway, when I manage to lockdown an agent, I'll track my progress with that. When I get a book deal, see publication, etc, I'll track my progress there as well. Then I'll track whatever comes next.
Or... I'll have another mad fit and delete it all again.
It's a writer's life I guess.
Come back on Saturday July 14 to gechusum. It's going to be all about the writing that came before the agent search. Baby steps folks.
AE Stueve is a writer and a teacher.