I didn't always want to be a writer.
Back in middle school, I was only good at two things: playing video games and making homemade pizza.
When it came to writing? I hated it. Loathed it, even. So when Mrs. Bowman, my eighth-grade reading teacher, made us write a story as part of an assignment, I did the least amount of work humanly possible. It went something like this:
Once upon a time there was a kid who played video games. One day he got sucked into his video game and had
to do battles. Then he died.
My reward for all that hard work?
A big, fat F.
However, under the grade was a short note: This has potential. Let's work on rewriting it.
Rewriting? I'd already written it. I didn't want to write it again just so she could slap another horrible grade on my paper. When I finally met with her, she told me what I'd turned in was something called a rough draft. She told me it was a good start, but it wasn't finished. I told her it was. That I'd done it that morning on the bus and it took me a full six minutes to do, thank you very much.
Mrs. Bowman didn't think that was funny.
She said that I had to take my rough draft and rewrite it to make it better. The problem was that I had no idea how to make it better. So she began asking me all sorts of questions. Where did I get my idea? Who was this kid? Where did he live? What game was he playing? What were the battles like? How could he defeat the bad guy?
I told her. I told her everything.
After about fifteen minutes of me talking about this game, the ideas in my head were growing, rising like a pizza crust baking in the oven. My brain felt like it was on the verge of bursting with possibilities.
Mrs. Bowman just listened. When I was through, she smiled at me and said, "Good. Now turn your story into that."
So I did. My story stretched and morphed and mutated, going from three measly sentences to sixty-one pages of unicorns, magic, knights, evil overlords, and one dorky main character named Ryan.
When I turned it again?
I got an A.
This time the note simply said: I think that was worth it, don't you?
It was my first ever experience with rewriting. It was then when I finally realized that a first draft is nothing more than pizza dough. It's just throwing the ingredients together and smooshing them around for a while. You can't eat it. Not yet. But with a little more work, some extra flavors, and a lot of heat, you can get there. And that's what rewriting is. Taking a lumpy draft and turning it into a wonderful, fresh, homemade story.
That's what I want to share with you now. My pizz—er . . . story, I mean. It's called The Magical Forest. I hope you think it's as tasty as I thought it was.
(taste tested by puppy...)