i write because i'm happier when i write. not because i'm a good writer.

-shanita john-

Yes, like the potato.

When I was younger I wrote stories.

I must have been in 2nd grade when I wrote my first one. It was about a detective named Sam Spud—“Yes, like the potato,”—he would preempt people upon introduction. Sam was a detective whose arch nemesis was either Big Butt Binky or Large Mouth Louie (I honestly can’t remember which, but I’m positive I toyed with both names.) The story began, “It was a dark and stormy Tuesday…” The writing itself began in a college-ruled notebook inside a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper in the middle of math class. It wasn't great, but it must have left an impression for me to remember it after all these years. But sadly, Sam and his nemesis were left behind in the desk of a small, strict Lutheran elementary when suddenly my family decided to up and move.

“It was a dark and stormy Tuesday…”

But leaving behind my half-written tale didn’t stop me. I continued to write.

Some time later, well after Spud, there was “Rose are Blood Red." This chilling serial killer one-off filled an entire notebook forwards and backwards, actually. When I reached the end I began writing again, this time using the backs of the pages. I can barely recall how it all went down, but I do remember that I killed off doe-eyed Brooke about two chapters from the end and my brother (intentionally my only reader in those days) stopped talking to me for a bit. 

And on I went crafting capers. On three occasions, these capers turned into books (I’m not kidding, ask my brother.)

In total, over 900 single-spaced Word Perfect pages of crime adventure. All swirling around protagonist, Abigail Lawson, a reformed sleaze ball gossip columnist and her one-time-defense-attorney-turned-lover, (spoiler) Cameron Campbell. Those two characters were supported by an initially mousey, computer-savvy intern named Valerie and finally, from Abby’s faux-journalism days, Thomas Borden. A too-young-to-be-anything-but-a-trust-fund-baby trouble maker. Ah, the adventures! But then, like Mr. Spud, their quests, which at least once took them took the Middle East, all vanished into the great unknown in 1999. Yes, our Packard Bell decided it was time to give up the ghost, corrupt some shit and head on home to Glory. (Just kidding, that computer’s in hell, for sure.)

(Just kidding, that computer’s in hell, for sure.)

This was a damning and tragic loss, certainly. But, then again, maybe there was an upside. Instead of having those books now and being able to reread them and see how truly terrible they were, I’m left with the warm glow of nostalgia. The illusion of the magnificence of my teenage prose and swelling pride for the cleverness of my storytelling, none of which can be judged or qualified. 

But one thing was clear, my literary career died with that hard drive. That and my ability to commit to writing fiction any longer than two hard flicks of an iPhone screen. Which is actually now 'note novels' started. 

It started because I hear stories. More on that next time.

When you noodle in narrative.

Take my lunch money, please.