How did you begin?
For me, my earliest memory was Mrs. Collins, my second grade teacher. asking us to write a story after she had taught us how to write the letters of the alphabet.
I wrote a story called THREE MILES FROM NILLYPOO. It was linear. It had three acts. It had an ending.
And I think it was 5 sentences long.
Why do I remember this so perfectly? Discovering the power to make up anything I wanted gave me a beautiful and infinite purpose. I remember flipping that page over to finish the story on the back of the paper—– I didn’t even know if I was allowed to continue on the back! ——and it blew my mind.
This is my first memory.
I would later write a short film when I was 12. I would shoot that film in the woods near our house and star in the film. I gave my little brother a small role.
I became a poet as a teenager. Wrote a play in my early 20’s and then a screenplay after I was 30.
Now it’s been decades and today I will write again like that 7 year old boy. I will open the blank page and create. I will imagine something new and beautiful and I will put it down. I will not know where it will go. I might not think of others when I make my choices. I will surrender to the living spark in me that was not taught, and a story will arrive.
But many days, even today, I might find myself buried in anxiety over if it will ever good enough. I will struggle with the problems I face with the characters and the logic of their actions, whether anyone will understand what they do, and how my story will end.
I might regret how much time I have wasted in the past, working on stories I didn’t finish. That I should have written more. Can I fix the script in front of me? Should I have written this in the first place? Is it right for this industry today?
I have habits of writing which I now question. I have practiced ways of writing that some days I wonder if they work. Maybe I should try another way? Perhaps I should consider doing less of one thing or trying something new. Today, like many days of my writing life, I believe other writers know something I don’t, and I might compare my work to the scripts of others.
I ask you to start over where you began. At the beginning, there was nothing that could stop me from flipping over that page and writing that story. I was a comet. No one was there except the lantern inside me, leading the way. Today, I choose to forget every problem with writing I’ve ever told myself, because when i started writing as a child, they did not exist, and most importantly, they were not true.
They were never true.
Stay close to the spark that started everything. Refresh your memory of the discovery of your own imagination. When did you claim your talent? Work from this place. I want to write like that boy in Mrs. Collins’ class today. I want to honor her instruction and repeat my effort that morning many years ago, for my work deserves joy and freedom before all else. So I ask you again.
How did you begin?
By: Gordy Hoffman
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