Hi, I’m Elle. I wrote my first book at age 7 called “Tommy the Turtle at the Beach.” I wrote it in green crayon on wrinkled construction paper and glued the ends together like real darn published book. I also illustrated the whole thing because I couldn’t afford an artist on my seven-year-old allowance.
The story was an Aesop’s fable-inspired tale of a wild young turtle struggling with the unfair chains of authority (his mom). He runs away while at the beach, and a rogue wave representing the chaos of death (I assume, as I colored the wave black and wrote “death” with an arrow pointing at it) drags him out to sea. Tommy laments the shrinking shoreline, struggles to swim, and encounters a school of fish who mock his pain. Ignoring that Tommy is a turtle and could probably swim just fine, I end the tale with a giant oceanic whirlpool dragging him to the uncharted depths of the sea because I was irrationally afraid of rogue whirlpools when I was seven. He dies.
My book was a bit morbid, even for seven. So, I added an alternative ending where a fisherman rescues Tommy. Everyone cheers, including the do-nothing lifeguard I drew in red crayon. I put my finished debut novel (with both endings) on the family bookshelf next to the Bible because that’s where it belongs.
When I’m not reading, I’m writing, thinking about writing, lamenting about writing, or wondering why I continue writing when I could be a very successful accountant with a steady day job, a mid-range car, and a mug that says “I hate Mondays” but unironically. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at math, so writing it is.
But, I’m a selfish writer. I took a journalism course in college during an election year. I drafted a piece on a prominent candidate’s policies, but the professor SLAPPED it out of my hands and screamed at me (metaphorically; it was on the computer and he was actually very nice). He told me I must write about her crimson lipstick, her lustrous skirt, and her shrilly voice. “That story will sell, and writing is all about selling.” So, I learned how to sell: all I do is take a knife to my draft and cut out its soul. Simple.
I just can’t do that anymore.
I don’t think the original ending of “Tommy the Turtle at the Beach” would sell, but even my seven-year-self knew it was the real ending, the gritty, weird, wild ending. I write gritty, weird, wild stories about messy people who aren’t always nice or safe or marketable. But they’re the stories I want to read, and I hope you like them too.
Do you like peanut butter? I like peanut butter too. I saw a website where the author just listed a bunch of facts about herself instead of writing an “About Page.” Brilliant. I can’t remember that author’s name (but if you find her, email me so I can give her credit for this About Page hack). She wrote a list of 41 things. I don’t know why she chose that number, but I’m going to write eighteen facts because 1 + 8 = 9, and nine is my favorite number (Hey! Maybe I’m not so bad at math).
Would you like to buy me a cup of coffee to keep me awake during those long nights of inspiration? You can support my enchanted library goals by signing up for my Patreon or buying me a cup of coffee. Thank you. I really appreciate it.