Every story needs a beginning. It can be an introduction or a simple warm up for what follows. Fourth grade is when I realised that I had completed that first part of my story.
We were asked who we wanted to be when we grew up, and while my classmates wanted to be police officers and lawyers, I was trying to understand how they figured that out. What do people that are happy do for a living?
One day in class, we were assigned to compose an original story with structure and denouement, and I wondered if I had what it took to be a good author. There is magic in stories, crafted by wordsmiths, and having recently stumbled upon a folktale I loved, I had reread its entirety in one sitting. The story was The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Ass, and the Cudgel in the Shack by the Brothers Grimm and had been as arousing as I had remembered. Tischlein deck dich, Goldesel und Knüppel aus dem Sack.
We had half a day and I wanted to come up with a fantastic tale of my own. People could be animals and lessons would be learned through experience; if only I could find a story worth sharing. How do authors do it?
Surely, writing about my pet, weekend or any of the other topics we had brainstormed on the chalkboard earlier would have filled the hundred words requirement but none were as exciting as the surprising element that would only divulge itself by previous actions.
There was a story I wanted to tell and each word seemed to come with a sentence and a meaning. I constructed every paragraph ahead of the other and ink filled the pages of my notebook, but it wasn’t a composition of my own. It was in fact the story of someone else, with a table, a donkey and a cudgel in the shack but as expressed by me.
I was always the quiet boy in my class and never asked for much but when I raised my hand for permission to keep writing through recess, the teacher said yes. Perfectly aware it was plagiarism that I was committing, I couldn’t stop. See, I had a reader and a story worth sharing that ignited a flame inside.
Was the houses round in the Grimm's story, because they were to me. Were there four clouds in the sky, because that is how many I could count when I looked up. The details were vivid, almost exaggerated in my mind and they didn’t stop until the end. This must be what it feels like to be an author, I thought.
In the end, there were twenty two pages and I remember my teacher taking me out of the classroom with my notebook in hand a few days after, trying to choose her words amidst a distinct excitement. “You came up with this?”
My very first storytelling experience was on paper. I’ve always been shy and sort of introverted but that never meant that I didn’t have anything to say. There’s something about storytelling that is explosive, uninterrupted. Oh, her disappointment when I admitted the violation. I lost my grade but I was proud of myself for achieving a spark. Judging from her reaction, half a day hadn’t been enough for anyone in the class. What is in a grade, and what could I achieve would I apply myself again?
To conclude, a feel good moment that makes it perfectly acceptable to smile in the inside. “The most beautiful moments are usually followed by a spark, and those found within are by far my favorite.”