Today is the second day I’ve had a story workshopped really well, being the second out of three stories we have to submit for creative writing class. The people who are there are mostly creative writing minors or just people with an ardent interest in cw/looking for an easy class. What I learned, to my surprise, was that the best writing was still always writing that you write from what you know, even if it doesn’t seem as interesting. I was told the emotions and dialogue were vivid although the language and mood was overwrought. The emotions and dialogue I wrote from personal experience, transmuted onto a different character.
Back to school stories.
Am I writing what I know about?
This could be a beginning that sets up a story about a guy who feels like he’s a dork and does things of heroic status but has to come to terms with actually being a dork. In that case, that would be authentic.
In grade five, I was told by someone I didn’t even know that I would amount to nothing. That was traumatic in and of itself, of course, except that this person also took the liberty to spit on my beat up shoes before spinning around to walk away. This person was actually Shelly, by the way, and yes, she was a girl. I don’t think it would have helped if she were actually a guy. A name like Shelly might scar a guy forever.
We had just finished recess and were running back into the classroom. It was now craft hour and all the supplies were in the corner farthest away from the door. We knew whoever got there first would get the first pick, so we made a point to all beeline for it, which you can imagine, got quite chaotic.
“Will, you’re going to rip the bag of feathers, NOOO!”
“How many times do you I have to tell you, it’s MY turn to use the glitter glue!”
“I put dibs on it THREE WEEKS AGO!”
I spun into the classroom a little late, on account of Tyler needing to go to the washroom. To my surprise, someone’s hand was already on the bottle caps when I reached into the box for them. Death gripped around the fistful that was left was a girl wearing a smirk and all black. “I’m using them for a bottle frame,” the girl said, towering above me.
“Alright.” I backed off, realizing I’d never seen the girl before. “I’ll wait next week.”
“Don’t bother, there won’t be any left then, either,” the girl hissed and a little globule of spit fell out of her mouth and onto my shoe.
Now that I’m in grade five I’ve learnt what perspective is. Shelley was nasty because she had just moved here from New York and they didn’t have recycling there. We of course, had multiple recycling programs at Fernhill Elementary; Ms Rose collected the bottle caps herself and there were no hard feelings between us for letting Shelley take all those caps that day because there were plenty more the next. In a funny way things worked out that way: a bottle cap here, a bottle cap there, and something big came out of it. It was an economy of small efforts that amounted into something bigger. Perhaps that was the reason why Shelley was fated to come here, because another thing perspective gives is the idea of fate.
Fate is a topic I’m an expert on. I received an A+ on my assignment for Ms Rose about it in the spring, partially because it was based on real life. Projects based on real life tend to turn out better, because your imagination can be pretty bad at filling the holes. Like for example, when I was in grade four I had calculated that I was five pounds lighter than Tyler, and so I could definitely carry over the stairs at the front of our school if I started skating from the front door. To lower my weight even more, I took off my helmet for the stunt. We flew over those stairs, even Tyler. It was the second time that didn’t turn out so well. Tyler was pooped already, but I was pumped on adrenaline.
“I can’t believe we did that. We have to do it again!” I insisted to Tyler, who was lying with his baseball cap over his face and his head on his board.
“No thanks,” Tyler mumbled sleepily. “My brother broke his arm last time he did something risky twice.”
“But that’s because he wasn’t good. We’re good.”
“Tony is a dork,” Tyler agreed. “But I’m actually really tired.” I looked at him incredulously. That wasn’t like Tyler. He saw me looking at him. “It’s the growth spurt okay? Tony told me he went through one when he was my age, too, and it hurts like hell.”
“The curse,” I joked, and we both giggled at the reference to the female period.
So it was that only I planted both feet back on my board and slid with impending doom towards the stairs and fell and broke my arm and it hurt like hell.
Maybe that was fate, too.
Shelley had partially hit a nerve. I was a decent skater but not not known for anything in school. Even Mom sometimes took me aside and swept back my hair, smiling kookily. “You look dorky, sorry Charles. It’s adorable.”
“No one wants to be a dork.”
“Adorable, not a dork.”
But maybe I was a dork.