This is from a narrative I wrote for my freshman writing class.
Some writers say their interest in writing novels has followed them since they were young, writing stories as soon as they could lift a pencil. I think, “Wow, that’s amazing. I’m impressed!” I would have loved to be able to tell the story of harnessing a creative energy that followed me through the years. But one could say that I was a dormant volcano just waiting to erupt. The need and desire to use my imagination to create riveting stories that capture readers’ attention had to start somewhere. And the catalyst came when my fifth grade teacher assigned our class to write a short story.
For fourth through sixth grade, I attended St. Viator’s Elementary school in Chicago. My teacher, Ms. Garrett was young, tall, and lean, with russet hair that went past her shoulders. Her emerald green eyes seemed to always be smiling, even when her lips did not curl up at the sides. Her voice sounded sweet and caring, and I had the feeling that she wanted the best for us, her students. One day in class, she gave us a short story writing assignment, the culmination to delving deeper into the short stories we read in our English textbook. For the short story, we had to retell a favorite fairy tale in a modern way.
The whole short story thing was an obscure idea to me. I felt anxious, wondering if my first short story would be any good. I had written poems before that point, but writing a short story was like trying to eat a humongous sundae before it all melted compared to eating an ice cream cone. The yummy poem cone would be more enjoyable because it was smaller and easier to finish. The towering short story sundae with the plot covered in conflict and with characters sprinkled on top looked like a challenge that I wasn’t ready to take. Despite what seemed like a monumental task, I had confidence that I could finish that sundae.
The fairytale part was easy; Cinderella was a no-brainer. I grew up loving the classic Disney movie. When my dad asked me what movie I wanted to buy at Toys R Us when I was four, I pulled on his hand and pointed at a movie that had a picture of a couple dancing. “You want Cinderella?” he had asked. I nodded. I watched it over and over again, nonstop one day. I remembered these details, so Cinderella was calling to me, the image of the VHS cover clear in my mind. Now, I just had to rewrite the actual story in my own way.
I sat on my bed with a fresh sheet of notebook paper on top of a textbook. I wrote my name on the top right-hand corner and decided to title it “A Modern Cinderella.” I had such vivid scenes in my mind when writing this story. I had the idea that young women were going to run a race to win Prince Charles’ heart since he loved athletic girls, and Kaleigh, my Cinderella character, would win after a push from second place to first place on the last lap. Everything I envisioned, I wrote down onto paper, painting pictures with words. When the due date came by, I turned in the final draft knowing I had done my best.
About a week passed by and Ms. Garrett announced to our class that she wanted to read one of our stories aloud, but she wouldn’t say whose story it was. I mentally crossed my fingers, hoping it was mine. The moment I heard her read the title, my eyes widened at the thought that she had actually chosen mine.
The boy sitting in the back row next to me looked at me. I was stiff in my seat, afraid that my classmates wouldn’t like it.
“Were you the one who wrote it?” Frankie asked me.
I nodded, my cheeks turning pink.
While she read it, I was surprised at how well it had come together. There was a certain fluidity to the story that caught my attention while I listened. I visualized the same scenes that my imagination created. I felt so proud of myself.
After Ms. Garrett read the last word, it felt amazing to hear my classmates’ loud applause. My fifth grade crush said, “Ow! Ow!” I was thrilled; that was his favorite phrase. My cheeks burned even more as I turned a deep shade of red. Everyone looked around the room, and all the signs pointed to me.
“It was really good, Karla!” “Wow, what a great story!” Compliments ricocheted from either left or right of me. I felt good—really good.
Ms. Garrett has had a profound impact on my love of writing, but I never realized it before she left St. Viator’s that year to Michigan. The following year in sixth grade, Mrs. Shutt, my teacher, said I really deserved an A+ on a short story I wrote for her class. It was too bad that I couldn’t thank Ms. Garrett in person for influencing me to be a writer. If she hadn’t read it aloud, then I probably wouldn’t have known that I had an actual talent.
Fifth grade marked the beginning of my interest in writing that later grew into a passion after I finished my first novel in my freshman year of high school. Ms. Garrett has earned a spot on the dedication page of my first book if I ever publish it. Because she read my short story in front of the whole class and I saw how much my classmates loved it, I know that I want to write creative fiction for my career. I am like Cinderella in a way. I started off with nothing, and now I have the passion that can be the driving force toward publishing my first book.