A Writer’s Journey – Part 2: My First Book

July 25, 2011 By: Christopher D. Eldridge Category: Plot & Stucture, Writing Craft

I don’t know just how many stories I had written by sixth grade, but I know for certain that this is when I created my first book, bound and with my own color illustrations. It was our major assignment for the semester in English. I’m sure I was thrilled about making my own book, though I can’t say for certain. I do remember it being a labor of love, something I was truly proud of after finishing. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who my teacher was.

I wonder if they still do anything like this at Pfeifer Elementary. Maybe today they’d make a digital version, instead using something like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office. With so many schools moving to smart pads or iPads, it’s certainly a possibility. I don’t think it would be quite the same experience, but a cool project nonetheless.

As you can see from the cover of my book, The Flavor War, this is a showdown between the forces of good and evil. Well, maybe it’s not all that clear from the cover. Looking back I have a sneaking suspicion I’d been playing a lot of Mega Man at the time. Things I enjoyed–books, movies, games–tended to find their way into my writing when I was young. In fact, I stopped reading fantasy in high school and early college because I was afraid of plagiarizing books I read and enjoyed. Now I’m better at assimilating what I read and learning from it, instead of simply regurgitating the words into my novel(s). Here’s a great quote by Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear) talking about how another writer’s words or style can find their way into your books. Just click to reveal or hide the quote.

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You can read the post in its entirety Here.

To read The Flavor War, click on the text below. I’ve added comments throughout, what I was thinking or feeling as I went back through the book, now twenty years later. I poke fun of myself quite a bit, which is only natural as the story is quite funny. My mother told me that, “I always loved this story, and it cracks me up even more now than it did then.” You can either mouse over the little, yellow sticky note icons to reveal each comment, or you can right-click on an icon and choose “Open Pop-Up Note”. I hope you enjoy the story.

The Flavor War

10 Comments to “A Writer’s Journey – Part 2: My First Book”

  1. You wrote your first book in Sixth Grade.

    I started my first book at the tender age of 43.

    If anyone ever calls you a “late bloomer”, please refer them to this blog comment. 😉

  2. In 9th grade my English teacher gave everyone a choice: do all the smaller writing assignments for the year or write one novel. I chose the latter. I met him about 20 years later and introduced myself, thinking he’d never remember me. Turns out I was the only one in all those years who chose to write a novel.

    • That’s pretty awesome. I guess you weren’t destined to be a novelist. I actually wrote my first novel in 9th grade, and for my English grade as a freshman in college I did the same thing as you, wrote a novel instead of the other assignments. (well, actually I rewrote the novel I had first written in 9th grade. Original was 62,000 words, second version was 150,000). I’m going to write a post about my first novel for my next “A Writer’s Journey”, plus include the original first chapter. 🙂

  3. Awesome! I love that you use the word ‘dreadful’ in the 6th grade, good for you! This is full of imagination and talent–and ice cream! Very cool.

  4. Warm it up, Chris!

    1) You might have had Mr. Grob or Mrs. Davidson (I think that was her name.. she drove the red CRX and parked on Miller St. every day). The other two teachers I had in sixth grade were new for that year, so you couldn’t have had them. Either way, you should find a way for your former teacher to see this article and the author you’ve become. Teachers eat that crap up.

    2) “…And my handwriting was poor. That’s why I type everything now.” You typed everything then, too. That’s why you convinced me to WRITE MY LOVE LETTER to Lindsey Dalton in MSWord and print it up. In hindsight, not the most romantic medium… 😉

    3) “Huleomanfuphis” is the disease Bush had.

    4) The segway between pages 11 & 12 is absolutely priceless. You take the reader from imminent doom at the hands of heavily-armed assault robots to a parade of kindergarteners. In classic literature, this never ends well for the kindergarteners. I really like your twist though… keeps it G-rated.

    5) I can tell you were highly influenced by traditional, 6th century Zoroastrianism for the plot and conflict set of the story. Very clever. When Missile Man gave everyone ten years of ice cream and chocolate, it obviously eluded to the victory of Ahura Mazda over Ahriman and ushering in an age of cosmic renovation for the universe. Ever so subtle, you reference Persian mythology very articulately. Nicely done!

    6) Alright, the moment of truth. As you know, I teach sixth-graders. If a student submitted this magnificent volume to me, not only would I award him/her an ‘A’, but I would announce that the following Friday is “Ice Cream Wars Day” to celebrate this creative work of literary genius. Students would be encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the book. Then we would spend the final 30 minutes of class hurling ice cream and chocolate at each other in homage of the final battle between the rampaging automatons. Extra credit would be given to any students who recreate the battle using real ingredients in their own living rooms at home.

    My only real complaint about the work was the distinct lack of sprinkles. I like sprinkles.

    • Now that you mention it, I’m almost positive it was Mrs. Davidson (or was it Davis?). And I clearly remember her red CRX. Mr Grob doesn’t sound familiar, although my mom was pretty certain my English teacher in sixth grade was a man and that we got along exceptionally well. I do remember a male teacher that I liked but I don’t think it was my English teacher.

      Did I actually convince you to write your love letter to Lindsey on the computer? If I recall, you had exquisite penmanship, so obviously I wasn’t thinking clearly. I didn’t actually write the letter for you, did I? 🙂

      Well, Huleomanfuphis is a terribly deadly disease, and one you most certainly never want to come down with. There is no cure, and the case fatality rate is 100%…even higher than Zaïre Ebola Virus.

      It was truly my intention to turn classic literature on its head, and to show how great a story can be without gratuitous violence.

      I’m impressed you were able to see how nimbly I wove my story with the philosophy and religion from the great prophet Zarathustra. While I wasn’t trying to create a didactic story, I was interested in exploring the duality between good and evil. I’ve always enjoyed the classic mythology of two supreme beings of opposing forces and how they interplay with mortal beings; the clash of black and white that results in the messy gray we call humans.

      Being well aware that you teach sixth grade, I am ecstatically jubilant to receive your praise. I would be very interested in knowing if the greater percentage of sixth-graders would choose Missile Man or Death Man before commencing with a no-holds-barred hurling and chucking of ice cream and chocolate. Furthermore, I would pay good money to see a recreation of the battle using real ingredients in the living room of one of your students.

      In defense of the lack of sprinkles, it was something I agonized over. But in the end, I chose not to use the delectable add-on because they were simply too small to use as an intended weapon. Hence the use of jelly-beans instead.

  5. Your responses are very thorough. A+!

  6. Wait… “A Writer’s Journey”?

    Chris, please tell me you’re not going to post our old switch-off story… I just don’t know if the world is ready.

    • As tempting as that is, I think you’re right. The world is not ready for a story of such magnitude. Plus, I don’t think its mood or tone would fit very well with my high fantasy series. I still have it on my computer, by the way. It might be fun to dust it off and have some fun with it, even though the rest of the characters in the world of Crameria and surrounding planets, have more or less left the universe. Not sure if they’d come back either.

      The next post of my journey will be about the first version of the first book in my now un-named epic fantasy series that takes place on Zenita. First chapter to be included. 🙂


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