Okay.

Truth time.

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.

                The end.

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...)

(arms)