Monday, April 22, 2013

A Young Writer

It's interesting to hear David and Keith talk about their first experiences with writing as adults.  My first experiences with writing are mingled with my first memories of my childhood.  I wove horrible stories and made up characters before I could ride a bike.

My first real memory of writing a book was a long time ago living in upstate New York.  When I was maybe five or six, I have this strange memory of a babysitter taking my sister and me to a wooded park near our house with huge evergreen trees.  She ate my ice cream cone while I climbed up the fifty million steps to go down the biggest slide.  I got angry and yelled at her.  Time passed, but in my four-year-old mind it was the next day that I found out she was moving to Pennsylvania where all the vampires lived (well, in my mind, Transylvania and Pennsylvania sounded the same, and yes, I probably watched too much Scooby-Doo as a child).  I carefully cut a dozen or so pages into 4-inch boxes, folded them carefully in the middle, stapled them all carefully on the center crease, and then wrote a story about my babysitter and me in my book.  They weren't actual words, it was just long squiggles on the raggedy pages that in my little, underdeveloped brain looked like cursive writing.  When I gave her the book, I told her about being sorry for yelling at her and not wanting her to be eaten by vampires.

I don't think she had a clue what I was talking about.  She smiled and nodded.

I spent the majority of the next seven or so years in my basement, the Furlers' basement, or the Furlers' backyard.  It was my three sisters, the three Furler sisters, and me.  We would put on elaborate plays and have crazy adventures about outer space, orphanages (I would insist on being Annie and Laura would be Miss Hannigan), cowboys, pioneers, and detectives.

The stories haven't stopped.


  1. I love this! And I just learned where American vampires come from. Good thing Ohio plants garlic along its border. Whew!

  2. No wonder the Buckeye state smells so bad! Love the pictures and the remembrance or stories past! And now the state wants to undercut the teaching of cursive in public EVERYONE can simply communicate with random, squiggly lines on hand-cut paper...

  3. Have you seen my handwriting? Really, my signature might as well be written by a monkey with pencil up it's butt scooting across the page. I feel the same way about modern art. I love the imagery here, Heather. I can easily see the mini you doing this and not just because I know you.

  4. it took me two readings to realize it was the babysitter that stole your cone while you were on the slide, not your sister. that's cold. for some reason it reminds me of dave chappelle's story about his first day of kindergarten where one of his classmates was coloring some corn green, and dave told him that corn is yellow and the kid just started hitting him.
    it's funny how being small and young affects your memories of things. when you can count the years you've existed as a life on one hand everything seems to be judged on a scale of giant to insurmountable.
    one of my classic weird stories from when i was but a young lad begins with me being pushed down a huge hill in the dead of winter by a horrible bully and smashing my head against a wooden post sticking out of the ground. i've told this story easily 20 times, the hill probably growing slightly larger each time. and then last fall my mom found a baby squirrel by the side of the road and ended up saving it and keeping it in a box with bedding; i seem to remember she saved it not only from the elements but from some half-crazed old woman that was trying to nudge it back into the woods with her shoe. i needed to go somewhere with my mom that day, but this quickly took presidence as it was obviously a matter of rodentia life or death. So, she found an vet. hospital in north st paul that would take the animal. after we dropped it off we realized that we were very close to the small town where i grew up, home to the monster death hill, so we decided to take a detour on the way back to the good twin. we eventually came across the hill and it was maybe, MAYBE fifteen feet tall with about a 5% incline at most. the wooden struts that lined the bottom were already long gone, perhaps taken by an errant wind. my brother asked me if that was the horror mountain from my story and i told him that memories were strange things.

  5. heather, i really enjoyed the easy swing of your story telling. So clear and simple to follow!
    is ben one of the new bloggers to your site? if not, he should be. annie