There were times in grade school that I was bored with the subject at hand. It happens to every kid. You day dream. Mind wonders. You throw paper balls. Whisper to your buddy in the desk across from you. Or, if you are a writer, you WRITE. On the sly.
I wrote tons of stories in grammar school, my notebook hidden under my math or history book. My mind would drift from the notes scribbled on the black board- the teacher's voice morphing into nonsensical dribble like an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
I was a huge comic book geek (and STAR WARS geek, and mythology geek, and magic geek, and model rocket geek) so my first stories I wrote were often based on the heros of Marvel Comics. It's funny, but when you are an eleven year old boy you are either a Marvel Comics fan or a DC fan. Like baseball in NYC- it's either Mets or Yankees. Never both. So I would sit and write my own adventures for Spiderman or Captain America and suddenly a boring day in school became an adventure.
I created a character called AGENT 21. I still to this day have the original folder filled with yellowing pages of the dozen or so handwritten spy stories. Stories with uber-melodramatic titles like, "The Sound of the Waves Means Death", or "Diamonds are a Thief's Best Friend" and "Thou Art Stolen". Tales filled with pubescent-boy violence fantasies, fun-filled gadgets and questionable grammar. All lots of fun.
Teachers need to understand the value of nurturing the natural talents of their students. This is how the educational system should be changed and geared- allowing the kids to discover their bliss. On one mid winter day, as I sat hunched over my notebook deep in the excitement of Steve Power's latest attempts to save democracy from international lunies, I sensed a sudden silence.
I looked up to find dozens of eyes on me - two of them (or actually four) the eyes of my teacher (who shall remain nameless). He stepped up to my desk and lifted the history book I was using to cover my stealthy, literary attempts. What unfolded was right out of a Pink Floyd song.
"So - Michael is writing the Great American novel!"
The class erupted in laughter. Red faced I glanced around the room. It was as if in slomotion. The jerks were laughing. My good friend Howard wasn't. He was always a great guy. He looked down at his desk (probably writing his own story!) There was a sudden pit in my stomach. Was she laughing? The girl who would later reject me when I asked her to the prom (in a scene right our of Freaks and Geeks!) was indeed getting a chuckle. Great, I thought to myself, my face getting redder. Her sister, who was always a good friend, was not laughing. You know your friends when the times get tough.
I tried to babble an excuse but really had nothing to say. The genius went on: So Michael will be the next great American novelist! Hey everybody! We have a future celebrity in our class!
I can hear his accent becoming English and hear the opening chords of Another Brick in the Wall starting to play. I could only sit there and take it. For a couple of days I was called "The Great American author" by some of the future brain surgeons of the class. I began to wear it like a badge of honor.
So as my second novel is prepared top be published I wait. My first (Milky Way Marmalade), aside from GREAT reviews, did not sell to great American novel levels. My next- a middle-grade exciting tale called RUPERT STARBRIGHT: THE DOOR TO FAR-MYST (book 1) will be available soon. You can all help me get the best kind of revenge to that dimwit teacher by buying a copy and making me- finally- a GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST!
Keep writing kids. Keep painting. Keep making music. Keep dreaming the good dream