When I was in first grade, we learned about a gorilla that could sign named Koko. (Click on the link--Koko is an actual gorilla and is able to understand more than 2,000 English words. Pretty cool!) Clearly, I was fascinated with this, and when we were given the opportunity to write a creative story, Koko was my choice.
However, the story had absolutely nothing to do with sign language. I was fascinated more with the relationship between the gorilla's handler and the gorilla than anything Koko could really do. It should also be mentioned this was around the same time that our dog ran out the front door and ended up going through a neighbor's open door and jumping into bed with their daughter.
My story detailed how Koko was walking home from school one day and walked into her house. She thought it was a little strange, because nothing was really how she remembered it, but clearly, this wouldn't bother Koko.
Instead, Koko decides to go upstairs, where she hears water running. Now, whether this was with the intention of showering on her own or saying hi to her male owner, I'm not sure, but she goes upstairs, opens the bathroom door, throws open the curtain, and...(in my best first grader impression)
OH NOOOO!!! It's a naked lady!!!!! AAAKKKKKK!!! ICCCCCKKK!!!! EEEWWWW!!
You wouldn't think this would launch a writing career, but I was also reading it aloud at this point, and my class was so severely in stitches over my story that I had to be sequestered. I was sent to an empty classroom and put into an empty cubicle (why? that seems redundant. And also, what was a cubicle doing in a first grade classroom? These questions will never be answered) to finish my story on my own. Instead I think I giggled until recess.
So that kind of hooked me. Then, later, in about fourth grade, I read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.
I HATED it. I HATED IT!!!! I was so mad that I had invested so much time, love and energy into that book and she DIDNT DRINK THE POTION IN THE END??!?!?!!? What the hell kind of ending was that? Why would anyone NOT choose to be with the love of their life for all eternity? Who was this Natalie person and when did she have a lobotomy?
Clearly, I was LIVID. I was so mad I threw my book across the room and I might have even gone after it to rip it up a bit. Maybe not. I loved my books (clearly, I still do).
And I sat down with this big ridiculous frown on my face and I wrote a new ending.
And then, oh then, I was really hooked.
And that, dear friends, is how I knew I wanted to be a writer.
AC Gaughen is the author of Scarlet, a retelling of the Robin Hood legend that reimagines Will Scarlet as a butt-kicking girl. Check it out February 14th, 2012 from Bloomsbury|Walker. Or just come visit her website. Or come stalk her on Twitter.