When I Started Writing  (With help from Captain Kirk)

“I started writing in elementary school.” I’ve read that in a number of author bios and have been alternately impressed that someone could productively put pen to paper at such a young age, and depressed that it wasn't me. It made me wonder if I'd failed the first test for being a “real” author.

But as I look back to elementary and especially high school, I realize that I did start writing at that age, I just didn’t know it. I used to think that all writing had to be unique, one of a kind, totally original material. You see, I hadn’t heard of fan fiction. For anyone else unaware of this genre, fan fiction involves taking characters and settings invented by someone else and giving them new adventures. All through late elementary and high school I would regularly take my favorite TV shows and movies and give them different endings or different episodes, complete with dialogue and enlarged story lines.

So each week Captain Kirk and his crew would have an ancillary adventure with one or more different endings tacked on to the original script. The Walton family would face issues amazingly like those I’d experienced in my own family or observed at a friend’s house, with John Boy taking a starring role. Maria would lead the Von Trapp children on adventures in America as I busily planned the Sound of Music Sequel. And when the Star Wars films first came out (I was in my late teens and early twenties) I took Luke, Leia and Han on an entirely new set of adventures. It was very imitative but very good practice because through luck or selective exposure, I copied some of the best shows around.

Eventually I made the next step and started composing stories about my friends and family, mixing and matching storylines and characters until my writing matured into what it is today. I may start with a particular personality quirk from someone I know as my inspiration/initial rough draft for a character, but once the story gets going, that character grows into a complete individual with their own set of foibles and idiosyncrasies.

But sometimes I still miss Captain Kirk and his crew.