Topics Covered So Far:
#1 of 10 – My O.P.U.S. Blog
#2 of 10 – Bourbon Zeppelin
#3 of 10 – Meeting a Hero of Mine
#4 of 10 – My Love Affair with Hawaii
#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV
Today, I’m going to tell you about a story that took me 35 years to complete…
The first writing assignment I ever got was a one page assignment to write a short fiction story in third grade. My idea was to write this story about two boys, Frank and Dirk, who had heard about this mysterious island called Bear Island. They decided to go off on their own on an adventure to the island.
Doing so meant a challenging traverse in a kayak on an island they had heard was quite dangerous. Eventually the boys would stumble across the bear that had been the thing of legend in their town.
So I started writing about Frank and Dirk and their friendship. That led to their plan to go to Bear Island. Then I wrote about the the crossing the ocean to get to Bear Island in a kayak. The boys were quickly in over their head when the seas picked up. They paddled harder-and-harder, but the sea was getting angier. Finally, one wave, the size of which the boys had never seen before, lifted them in their kayak and slammed it down onto land. Both boys rendered uncouncious from the impact. Dirk woke up first and shook his friend awake with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”
That was it. I was out of space. My page was full. I blew the assignment. I never even got to the adventure. They never even encountered the bear.
I went to my Mom and asked her what to do. She read my one-page story in my kid handwritten script (no computers back then) and she told me it was really good.
Wait, she didn’t even get it. This wasn’t complete.
I protested telling her there was no adventure. And the bear. What about the bear?
She told me I didn’t need any of that. The adventure was getting there. The plan, the execution, the angry sea. That was my adventure. That was the story. You leave it where they crash land on Bear Island and let the reader imagine the adventure. You set it up with your stories about mystery and intrigue and then you put your characters in the spot. You have left the reader to decide in their minds what happened to those boys.
I mean I think she made all of that up, but it didn’t sound bad.
Taking my Mom’s advice, I brought my story to class with me. We actually had to read them to the class and I have to say I was in good form that day. I really accentuated the tossing and turing in that kayak and I really hit the mark with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”
Applause. My teacher, Mrs. Varusa, loved it too.
Wow, that really fueled my desire to become a writer. It wouldn’t be anything I ever acted on though until 2012/2013 after my Dad passed away.
That story never left me all of those years. I would often think about Frank and Dirk and their adventure. That line too, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” just stuck in my head. Like a real movie line where you apply it to everday life (people who are into movie lines will get that reference). For me, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” would pop into my head for more than 30 years everytime I was on some new adventure. For example, like when I was walking in the door on the first day of my new job back in 1998 at the company I still work for, I remember that line popping into my head, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”
Yep, just like Mom said. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but an adventure is coming!
About a year into writing and publishing, I got the idea of publishing short stories. The first one I wrote was the Legend of Bear Island.
The new, updated Legend of Bear Island has the complete history of the island. It has our boys, Frank and Dirk, go on an adventure and now, finally, we get to see exactly what happened to them after regaining conciousness on the beach.
It’s still one of the favorite things I have ever written. The story is inriguing, funny, adventure-filled and immediately brings me back to the third grade version of myself, crafting that story on lined paper with a pencil, sharing it with my Mom and then reading it to the class.
Finishing this gem, only happened to me because I write!
Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!
Coming Sunday: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!
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