Thursday, February 3, 2011

Copy Cat

I've been asked before how I got into writing.

Does anyone remember Harry Potter? Yeah, that thing that's been popular for, like, 13 years now. Well, so in love with that series was I. In fact, more like obsessive compulsive.

In 4th and 5th grade, we had this thing called SSR (I know you remember Silent Sustained Reading too). In my 5th grade class, we had to write reviews on all of the books that we read. In one year, I submitted 21 about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

No joke.

My teacher got so mad at me for reading this over and over (yes, I read a few dozen other books too) that she began buying books for our class, but giving me them to me first just so I wouldn't read Harry Potter. It didn't really work (but I did enjoy those books too).

Anyway, let's get back to the story here.

When people ask me how I started writing, I describe my obsession. Then I'll go on to say how I started having ideas about different plot lines within the series. And so I would write about those. Thus, I had joined the Harry Potter Fanfiction community.

That's the truth, but not the whole truth.

Here's what really happened. Back when my family had AOL (you remember dial-up????), the "pre-teen" section had areas for fancfiction. One of them happened to be about J.K. Rowling's books. Having already read all 4 books that were out at that point, I devoured these stories. One of them I wanted to read over and over, so I would copy and paste it into my computer (this was a cool thing in the early 2000's).

Then, I would work through kinks in that story. The basic plot line would still be there, as well as a majority of the dialogue, but I would edit it just a bit. Being young and impressionable, I called it a story of my own.

Yes, I plagiarised. Of course, when I was 10, I didn't know that.

This is something that I haven't admitted to my own parents yet. It might sound silly, but I still feel ashamed about this one story that I wasn't even clever enough to call my own.

However, the story gets better.

That is how the first story went. After that, a combination of events occurred. First, my Harry Potter obsession got to my parents. They outright banned me from talking about the books or movies...and took away most of my things that had something to do with the boy wizard. Secondly, we switched from dial-up to high speed. That meant an end to the stories that I had once devoured.

So now I had a great deal of time on my hands, and a void that had been filled with the wizarding world. So I wrote. Yes, it was still about Harry Potter, but I began to create my own stories. They were from my mind, and mine alone. In the following year or so, I wrote 3 or 4 more stories of my own, often writing at recess with one of my good friends at the time.

For an 11 year old, these stories were good. I'm not gonna lie and I don't say this out of ego. But they were pretty well written. I had taken all that I had read in my life, and began to combine it into my writing. My parents, who had let up on my obsession, even began reading them.

I remember my mom sitting me down one night after she had read my latest story and said "you have a gift for this [insert name here]. These emotions that you described" (she was talking about two characters who were in love) "are so accurate. You haven't even experienced them, and you sound like an expert."

Then came the summer between elementary school and junior high. I was watching The Simpsons one night, and Marge wrote a book, using inspiration from a picture on her wall (it's still my favorite). I looked up on my own wall to the painting...a little cottage in the middle of the woods, with a little creek next to it--a wooden bridge crossing over it. Suddenly, inspiration struck and I began to write my first book. Entirely my own.

Although that idea was scrapped soon after, I had started something. For the first time, I began to create my own worlds.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I began to write. By first being a Copy Cat, and then taking what I learned and making it my own.


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