I was about six years old when I told my first story.
My family had just finished dinner, and my mother was cleaning the kitchen while I ran back and forth through the dimly-lit living room, making up adventures for my Pillsbury Doughboy doll. It wasn’t the first time I’d ever tried to create a character out of a toy, of course, but it was the first time I’d put together an actual narration (third person) to tell the character’s story. At that time, I wouldn’t have had the capacity to sit down and write any of this out—but that didn’t stop me from walking the Pillsbury Doughboy along the couch, reciting my carefully worded narration as though a secretary somewhere were taking dictation.
I can’t recall much of the actual plot of the Pillsbury Doughboy saga (other than that my main character had gotten in trouble for something), and at one point he was peering nervously into the kitchen, waiting to see how his parents were going to react to whatever it was he had done. I can also remember short snippets of the narration itself, such as “The little doughboy was nervous, for he knew his parents wouldn’t be too happy.” Wish I could remember what he did…
I was a budding reader at that time, so it’s a safe bet that much of my first story came from bits and pieces of books I had shared with my mother.
Both of my parents had always read to me regularly, but my mom had been on a particular literary crusade ever since my first grade teacher had told her that I had been placed in the lowest reading group. Within days of that fateful phone call, my mom had marched me to the bookstore, then back to the living room couch to read aloud the tumultuous tale of Ernie’s Messy Room. Eventually we moved up to Mrs. Pepperpot, and later, the Nancy Drew books. By the end of my first grade year, I had put my Daisy peers to shame.
I was bored by dull classroom books, but the stories my mom and I read together fascinated me. Plot and character were obvious draws, of course, but I also found myself paying particular attention to the words that brought these people and places to life.
I loved that words could be strung together in an infinite number of ways to create such beautiful-sounding stories. And I wanted my Pillsbury Doughboy to have a story like that.
In short, I was a writer before I knew how to write. But I was a reader first.
Writer and educator Sara Goas is a graduate of Lycoming College, and she specializes in creating content for the web. Her site saragoas.com has more examples of her work.