Monday, 24 May 2010

The First Story I Remember Writing

I know... I can hear you crying out in justified union. “What right does he have to write about writing? He's never been published!” Well, let me explain. Here and there between other books, I have been reading 'On Writing' by Stephen King. Despite being a fan of horror (amongst numerous other genres), it may surprise you to learn that I'm not a huge King fan. I find him to be an author I respect more than enjoy. Most likely that is my loss, and perhaps one day I shall pick up more of his novels and find a new host of gold to add to my treasured halls of mental book shelves. Until that time, however, I will note that I find his observations on writing quite insightful and fascinating. His stories themselves may rarely have appealed to my reading desires, but there is no denying he is a master of the craft and a compelling personality.

In the process of reading King's various anecdotes about his early experiences, I found my own memories triggering and firing. Memories of the things I have written over the years, or the experiences that have built-up to those pages of cramped black lettering. It got me thinking. I need to write down these snippets of my past, at the times I remember them. Put them into words on the page, lest they be forgotten one day.

So really, at this point in time, I am writing this more for myself than for you, my readers (If I have any). So stop complaining about my lack of credentials (You never know, one day some of you may be reading this after I actually have some!). Just let me ramble on for my own sake, and either enjoy or ignore at your own behest.

My first memory of writing, was a short science fiction story called “Richerd and the Alien Prince” (Obviously the character's name was Richard, but my typing or my spelling left something to be desired. I'm not sure which, probably both). If my maths is correct, it was probably 1985. I was about nine, my father was still alive, and we had been in the UK for perhaps less than a year since returning from the Bahamas (Job, not holiday). Being a Church of England Priest, my father had various tasks requiring the use of a typewriter, one of which was the church magazine.

I have little doubt that his creation of these monthly releases was an influence on me. Most likely at its greatest influence when I published the Rebel Review, but I shall go into that on another occasion. At this point, the primary factor was a typewriter, and my love of science fiction and adventure.

From here on in, I shall refer to my father as 'Dad', being the term by which I remember him. Dad had been given or loaned (I can't remember which) an old blue typewriter upon starting his new position. He was ever the gadget fan, a habit and addiction which I have most certainly inherited, be it genetically or by influence. Finding aforementioned typewriter functional at best, he soon purchased a wonderful new electric typewriter (This was just before the days of word-processing computers, which themselves will garner a few paragraphs in a later article). This typewriter was quite the marvel of modern technology, with gleaming white plastic sides, at least one or two glowing LEDs, and magical buttons that seemingly required little-to-no pressure before a letter was suddenly printed on the page with all the speed and power of a nail-gun on maximum. However, I digress. This typewriter had little influence on me apart from its untouchable wonder, and one other small factor. It freed up the little blue typewriter until such time as it was eventually returned to its original owner (So it must have been borrowed).

I metaphorically (perhaps even literally) rubbed my hands together in glee. Here was my chance! And so was spawned 'Richerd and the Alien Prince'. My ability for thinking up original character names must have been somewhat lacking (And may still be, depending on the opinion of my readers) because Richard was the name of my best friend of the time (Then again, if memory serves me correctly, he was only an acquaintance through church at that point, and yet to become my friend).

Richard is a local guy living a quiet and seemingly solitary life, who then witnesses the crashing arrival of something in the local woods. Of course he investigates, only to discover it contains an alien. Somewhat pathetically (Especially considering the alien prince looks human), Richard faints from shock twice in a row. What can I say, I was convinced that meeting an alien for the first time was so shocking that one's brain ceases to function momentarily, even when they look no different than someone you would pass in the street (Yes, this foolish story element embarrasses and bugs me even to this day). Anyway, despite having different languages, they make swift friends. However, all is not well. The enemies of the alien prince are hunting him in order to stop his ascension to the throne and removal of their power. A car chase ensues, and soon our heroes rather easily steal a jet from the local RAF base, and manage to shoot down the dastardly alien spaceship, saving the day. Not only that, they go back to Richard's house to celebrate by having a meal of chicken and chips. Believe me, I'm not kidding. It was my favourite meal as a kid, so that's what my heroes ate to celebrate. If you don't like it, tough.

I sat on the floor with the little typewriter, that in complete opposition to my Dad's electric counterpart, required fingers to be used like mini-hammers to ensure the letters were typed on the page with legible pressure. No doubt many hours later, a two-page short story was completed with plenty of errors, lots of words stricken through, and unusual grammar that will probably puzzle alien scientists in a post-apocalyptic world when it is the only surviving manuscript they discover, and (probably correctly) lead them to conclude that we were all insane.

The main point, is that I started writing. Adventures, stories, ideas and characters have always been bubbling over in the back of my mind, whether I have taken the effort to write them down, or they occurred to action figures in numerous miniature adventures.

Of all the things that story achieved, one shall never be forgotten. The immortal words of an alien language that meant something along the lines of:  “I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're saying.” Words that shall be remembered in my family alongside immortal movie terms such as “Gort Klaatu Barada Nikto.” Those words were...

“Baggy La Nifnook.”

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