I can’t think of a story to write for tonight, so this is a random hodgepodge of stories about stories I wrote when I was younger. I know, writing about things I have already written is kind of lame, but perhaps it will help budge a stubborn writers block.
I was once given a writing assignment. I was in third grade. We were supposed to pick a well known fairy tale and rewrite it in a new and original way. The other girls chose Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and such tales right away and I was left with Rumplestiltskin. It was not a favorite story of mine, but an assignment was an assignment.
I was really stumped. I racked my brain for a way to change the story, but the original was stuck in my head. So I thought, maybe if I changed the name it would help. I thought and thought about the name Rumplestiltskin- Rumple- stilt- skin. Rumple only brought to mind the word pimple, and the word skin was at the end, so I went from there. The basic story was exactly the same, but instead of having three tries to guess his name, the princess had three chances to guess what bumps covered the little man’s body. After guessing boils and chicken pox and warts, she finally figured it out by the simple expediency of taking a closer look at him. Instead of dying by getting his foot stuck in the floor in a rage and tearing his body in half (which I always thought rather gruesome) I had him fly away and get hit by an airplane.
I remember this story, not because of it’s brilliant writing, but because of the reaction my teacher had when I turned it in. She read each story aloud to the class, but when she came to mine and read the title, Pimplestiltskin she totally lost it. She started laughing, and laughing and then really laughing. I am talking gasping and wheezing and holding on to the back of her chair for support, while wiping her eyes, laughing. I don’t know if she even made it to the end. The class was staring at her and at me in total confusion. I was confused too because I was dead serious when I wrote that story. It took me a while to figure out what the joke was.
I took the same idea a few years later and wrote a fairy tale for everyone in my family, putting them in the place of the hero or heroine. One sister was The Little Mermaid, another the Princess and the Pea, but I think my favorite was the one I wrote for my mom. It was called “Snow White and the Six Dwarfettes (plus one big dwarf)” I mean, is that a great title or what? You don’t even need to hear the rest.
I even occasionally did some editing work. My younger sister and her friends once decided to write a story. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was an ironical look at cheap, overly dramatic, soap opera-ish plots and everyone seemed to die a horrible, jealousy induced death in the end. It was great reading and I undertook to edit a bit and type it up while they worked on the rather morbid drawings. I wonder whatever happened to that book. And I wonder why we were so weird as children.
In high school I actually wrote a small novel. Well, it was sixty pages anyway. Does that count as a novel? It was the thrilling tale of the best week I ever spent at summer camp. The climax of the story was the last night of camp. Skit night. My friend and I had written the plot for a “Spontaneous Melodrama.” Did you ever participate in one of those? Where the narrator picks the actors from the audience and then reads the story and they have to act it out? Well anyway, our cabin won the prize for the best skit that night, beating out the rival boys cabin who had won the previous three years.
As we walked back to our cabin in triumph after the evening’s festivities, rubbing it hard in the faces of those rival boys (whom we never flirted with, by the way) we heard a scream. The door of our cabin was open, and one of my friends was standing there pointing. I walked into the dark room and stepped on something. It crunched and squished simultaneously. As my eyes adjusted, I noticed that the floor was moving- crawling- slithering. Someone turned on the light and we all screamed. It must have taken many someones the entire week to collect so many frogs and snakes. Enough frogs and snakes to cover the entire floor. And we knew just who had done it.
But before we could point any fingers, the story took a turn just like out of one of my sister’s overly dramatic tales. One of the girls started freaking out, started hyperventilating, and then collapsed on the ground. Her best friend was yelling about her weak heart condition and needing to find her meds. Panic ensued. There were snakes and frogs and fainting girls. The head counselor was called for. They carried the girl away, but we were in the middle of the Montana wilderness, and a hospital was no where near.
There was a rumor that a helicopter had been called for. We were told to stay in our cabins, but our counselors were all at the scene of the drama, so we couldn’t stay put. People started sneaking out by twos and threes through the woods. Before long we could follow the sound of the chopper to the baseball field. The entire perimeter of the field was soon filled with campers hiding in the bushes, watching the excitement as the helicopter landed and the loaded the girl inside.
Once she was safely away, we made our way back. But there was still the problem of the critter infestation. The boys freely admitted to the collecting and depositing of over three hundred little lake frogs and fifteen snakes into our cabin. (They said it was fifteen, I only ever saw four) They weren’t about to let anyone else take credit for the best prank in camp history. The boys were given brooms and told to start sweeping. We were told to collect our bedding and take the boys cabin for the night, which we did with many promises of retribution to come.
It took a long time to settle down that night, and we were awake with the dawn, still chattering away about the events of the night before when out of the depths of one of the bunks we heard a low pitched and groggy,
“Shut Up and go back to sleep.”
We did shut up, but we didn’t go back to sleep. The voice sounded strangely masculine. The rising sun came in through the window, revealing a boy’s face peeping confusedly out of his sleeping bag at a gaggle of giggling girls, crowding around to get a better look. He sat up quickly, and we all started firing questions, laughing fit to kill at the poor guy who had apparently been out a little too late the night before and had missed the memo about switching cabins. He was doubly mortified because he didn’t have much on in the way of pajamas and had to do a humiliating bunny hop in his sleeping bag down the length of the cabin, out the door and up the hill. We may or may not have taken pictures of him. Ahh, revenge is sweet.
Well folks, there’s some stories about stories. Maybe I’ll have something a little fresher tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just post a recipe.