Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Bitch Without A Bed

When I was eight years old, I wrote my first story.

It was summertime, and like all summers past and future, we were spending it with my grandmother in Clovis. A tiny town on the High Plains of eastern New Mexico, Clovis was a kid's paradise -- plenty of alleys in which to find scraps of carpet, broken furniture, horned toads, discarded coffin boxes...

If you haven't heard about those already, go read the bio on my website. I'll wait.

Plus a whole town to explore over and over.

This particular summer, the family pets had come with us, Missy The Siamese Cat, and Brownie The Hybrid Chihuahua.

Brownie was getting old enough to smell a little. And it was hot out back in the garage my grandparents had turned into The Apartment, where we slept. As a result, no one wanted Brownie, that needy little thing, to hop into bed with them.

After some back and forth, and shuffling the poor unwanted girl from one of the two rooms to the other, my mother shooed her into Jane's and my section of the apartment, laughing: "The dog without a country!"

Showing my true colors at eight, at last, I rallied with: "The bitch without a bed!"

I really didn't understand exactly why the adults howled so loudly and repeated my declaration to everyone who stopped at the house for the rest of the summer, but I knew some magical threshhold in my life had been crossed. So of course, I wrote a story about it.

What goes around comes around.

This week, as I've researched endlessly, and shopped -- endlessly -- for a new bed for my new apartment, I've been thinking about my very first story.


What was your first story about? Was it one you wrote, or one you read?

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Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

I think like any other little kid, I must have scribbled a story or two but I just don't remember. What I do remember, is my Dad reading "Alice In Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass" to me. I loved those stories. Still do. My Dad would read these to me even after I could read myself. He enjoyed them as much as I did. I can still quote a lot of the nonsense poetry from both books. Don't ask me to quote any literary poetry.....heaven forbid. LOL!

February 17, 2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

"Off with her head!"

That's what I remember most about Alice. *shudder* Maybe it was all those trips to the Tower of London as a kid. Ruined me.

No literary poetry allowed on this blog! God no!

Except for maybe The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner. I loved that poem and still do. Those tortured souls always captivated me.

My mother read me The Hobbit and the rest of the LOTR trilogy even when I could read! She also read me Pilgrims' Progress.

Dad read me fairy tales from The Bookhouse Books. Did you have those, Bev? They were sold by door-to-door salesmen -- like encyclopedias. LOL. The Fab one collects them.

BTW, Jane, who has the complete set now. Do you? I certainly don't!

It's kinda funny because I got so emotionally attached to the Hobbits, I absolutely refused to pollute my lurv by reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

Eventually, I accidentally read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe excerpted in some magazine, got hooked, and glommed them. But I had to be fooled into cheating on LOTR.

I'm very weird that way. Still am.

February 17, 2008 8:38 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

I've never heard of the Bookhouse books. Maybe they didn't sell them in Michigan or my mother wouldn't buy them. I doubt it though. If I knew someone was at the door selling books, I would be right there begging. If she had bought all of the encyclopedias the door-to-door guys were selling, we would have run out of space.

I never got into LOTR or the Hobbit. I tried but I just couldn't get interested. It was probably because I loved the Grimm fairy tales and they were pretty gruesome. I seemed to go for blood and guts when I was a kid.

February 17, 2008 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, the first story that stuck in my head was "Are You My Mother?", where a bird asks everything he meets if they're his mother. I guess it was pretty intense for a little kid to think of losing his mother and having to wander around until he found her.
When I was 13, I went to a great, brand new Junior High in Rockville, Maryland. It was a cool place with this open design and hip young teachers, and we used this amazing anthology of short stories for our textbook in English. One of the stories was How I Contemplated The World From The Detroit House Of Correction, by Joyce Carol Oates. It was the first really adult thing I read, even though it was about a young girl who shoplifts and ends up in Juvie. It was dark and strange and it defined fiction for me, got hooked on what good writing can do. I've wanted to be a writer since the day I read it.
It only took me thirty years.


February 19, 2008 11:08 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

We are here, we are here, we are here, we are here!

Horton Hears a Who was one of my favorite Suesses. Also, Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose. All these critters take up residence in Thidwick's antlers until he finally sheds them in...spring? But the last page is an illustration of his rack on a hunter's wall, with all the dead critters stuffed on it -- little Xes for eyes and everything.

Oh for the glory days of children's books and fairy tales!

As for Oates, I think I already told you, DIP, that my first experience with her was also a dark short in HS -- about a girl who strangled an old man with piano wire in a hotel lobby. I think from her perspective it was a mercy killing. She got away with it, too.

Can't recall the title though.

February 19, 2008 3:35 PM  

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