Here I am.

31 Jul

The blog linked to my other email, The Winter Journal, has been fun but contains some inconsistencies. Such include the fact that I used letter “grades” in many of my older book and movie reviews; my waffling between my real name (Daniel Phelan) and my pen-name (Lewis Winter); and many other things, which I shan’t list at the moment for the sake of keeping things moving.

Today was not particularly eventful, other than this and my excitement over possible near-future employment via Elance. Here I must admit that I’ve not actually watched the Olympics thus far, but what I have seen of them has been amazing. Personally I do not care for sports most of the time, but these people are legendary. The pommel horse looks like it would be impossible; it would be for me, I would think. Then again, they are extremely devoted individuals who spend their whole lives in preparation for the Olympics.

And that is what writing is to me. I do it almost every day (working on ridding the description of the “almost” bit) and have been for some time. Really I have always been thinking of stories and such, and have been writing since I learned how to read. I began to consider it seriously as a career at the age of ten, and at age thirteen realized that I needed to actually do it instead of dreaming about it. Now I have written much and have much more to write yet. My first attempt at a story (referred to as “my book” as I had never heard of a short story at that point) was actually written in a sketchbook alongside pictures of the subject matter: dragons.

This was during my winter holiday, on the drive to my grandmother’s house in northern Illinois, and started with drawings. I drew a large, long-necked dragon breathing a plume of fire, filling every last scale on the beast’s body. It was impressive, but for the flaw of the scales’ all facing the same way instead of slanting on the limbs, head, and tail. In other words, it was like a sea of scales facing one direction, viewed by a dragon-shaped window. I drew several others, including a tiny one off in the distance spewing a cloud of flame at least fifty times the size of its body mass (even in fantasy it makes no sense, unless the wyrm is a medium for inferno from elsewhere) and one with a head on each end (where does it relieve itself?). There was what appeared to be a Tyrannosaurus rex with wings; a slit-eyed, beaked thing guarding either an egg or an orb; a winged serpent; a whale-like sea dragon. But this, in turn, had been inspired by the events of a few days prior:

The summer between third and fourth grade, my mother told me that third grade was extremely difficult and fourth would be “a walk in the park” compared to it. She was obviously no seer. Fourth grade was much more challenging than the year preceding it, which was actually quite easy. Fourth grade was grueling and intense until December, shortly before our winter break. There was a girl in my class, Kendra by name, whose grandmother visited us one afternoon to read to us from a volume of dragon stories.

“Hello, children!” she said as she sat down in the creaking wooden chair by one wall. “My name is Pam Brown. Your teacher, Mrs. Lake, was kind enough to allow me to come in and read to you. Today’s subject is one older than anyone knows: dragons.” A murmur went through the students. Some rolled their eyes, some were awed, and I myself sat silently transfixed by the idea of it, my eyes wide with interest. Vast to minuscule, snaking to hawk-like, the worms of this world and the next held much fascination and mystery to me. “This story,” Mrs. Brown went on, “is an alternative account of the story of St. George, who was supposedly a dragon-slayer. This story is told from the point of view of the dragon and his wife. The dragon was not just any old beast; he was, and perhaps still is, the great-grandfather of all dragons!” The murmur this time contained only a few hushed comments and lasted about two seconds. Kendra’s grandmother began to read and I, being the avid dreamer I was, listened to every word with rapt attention.

However, I am decent at multitasking. I found some white printer paper and a clipboard in one of Mrs. Lake’s cupboards and began to doodle a great winged sky-terror, listening to the she-dragon’s account all the while. At the end of the storyteller’s reading, I fought my way through the blob of fellow students to introduce myself to the lady. “Mrs. Brown!” I cried out as I stumbled forth from the wall of other kids. “My name is Danny,” I said with my hand extended. We shook and then the woman looked down at my other hand.

She gestured to my pictures and said, “May I?” With my assent she took the dragon images and looked at each of them in turn. “You’re quite the artist, Danny,” she said. “Keep it up!” And after patting me on the back in an encouraging manner, she turned to another child.


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