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Page from "Professor Dealy's Inventions"
One of the questions about my writing that people have asked is how long had I’d been writing. After giggling over the urge to say, “well I began with the alphabet at age 4” I was surprised to realize that I started writing stories with a Girl Scout project when I hand wrote and illustrated a book with magic markers. It might have been the lovely set of new markers that gave me the inspiration. It was a young children’s book of about 12 pages. My mother helped me bind it with red cloth and boards, showing me the skills she learned when she worked in Holman’s bookbindery in Philadelphia during World War II.
After that, I was bitten by the writing bug and my next project was more ambitious. At age 11 I began my comic novel, Professor Dealy’s Inventions, with a real burst of enthusiasm and wrote and three chapters, each one containing an illustration by yours truly. I have no memory of what inspired the story. Using a pencil, I wrote it proudly in my newly acquired cursive writing and spent time crafting my emerging style of forming the letters. After three chapters my enthusiasm spent itself when the ideas dried up. Three inventions and three hilarious situations (at least I thought so)
and writer’s block arrived. As many authors before me, I abandoned ship.
On to the next ship. By this time I was really taken with history and read avidly Edward Eager’s novels of friends who travel in time and have various adventures. I crafted my own version a young girl who travels back to the American Civil War era while using a swing hung on a tree. I was quite taken up with the drama of the story that I wrote in an old composition book during my summer break from school. Unfortunately I lost the composition book before I could finish it. Probably because it was then I was briefly consumed with my club, The Tres Muchachos formed with two girlfriends on my front porch.
Moving on from the lost story I decided to try my hand at plays for a bit
and, keeping with the history theme, wrote Princess Felicite’s
Marriage. I recruited my friends to play the various parts, saving the juicy role of the horrible Lady Batinella for myself, as well as Page 1 & 2. I painstakingly typed it out and photocopied it so each person had a copy.
We did a read through and giggled ourselves silly trying to perform it
and that was as far as it went. I’d had brief forays into the theatrical world before with my sister and her friend who made up plays and we’d perform them for her parents upstairs in the friend's playroom. My sister and
I also had no shame and would on occasion insist on re-enacting selections from musicals or excerpts from plays like Shakespeare’s As You Like It, on the stair landing, jumping back and forth to assume multiple parts.
After Princess Felicite’s Marriage I was swept into a Girl Scout
project to write another play. This time there was no historic setting; it took place in a retirement home entitled, Life At Berkely. This time, under the direction of the assistant leader we performed it for the other scouts and family members. I had a role in addition to being its creator, but in the spirit of Girl Scout fairness, each role ‘had its own merit’ and were all balanced (and boring as far as I was concerned).
After that I moved on to short stories as English class requirements
required my creative energies. By this time I was becoming more INTENSE as the teen years progress. It began with “An LSD Trip As I Imagine It” and progressed to, “Karey’s Tree,” about a misunderstood teen who gets killed by a tree (very dramatic). There were others, but I don’t remember them and by this time my mother couldn’t retrieve them from my clutches and save them for posterity like she did with so much of the things I and my siblings produced in our early years. My mother the early archivist, saved everything and its to her inability to throw anything out that I can now sit here and laugh hysterically over my early writing efforts.
Kristin Gleeson is a writer, artist and musician who lives in the west of Ireland in the Gaeltacht.
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