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  • M.C. Thomas

What Started the Fire?

No, I'm not talking about the Billy Joel song. I'm talking about what ignites our passion to write. To spill our soul onto a Microsoft Word document. To create unique worlds and characters.

For me, it all started in seventh grade when I read S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. It's a classic story about teenager Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with the conflict between the working-class "greasers" and the rich "Socs." It was published in 1967, but Hinton actually started it when she was fifteen (!!!) years old.

Our English teacher gave us an assignment where we had to write an additional chapter at the end of the book. We had free rein to make the story go wherever we wanted. I could add in killer robots, wizards, or time-traveling dinosaurs. Obviously I didn't do any of that, but it was the first time I realized that writing gave me a sense of freedom and power. I actually remember being excited when the teacher read my chapter aloud to the class. And that was what started my fire.

It inspired me to write a story of my very own the next year. The story of awkward high-schooler Jim Trewell and his plight to become the school's next baseball hero. That's all I'm gonna say about it because it...well, it was pretty bad. As any first writings are. I had saved it onto a floppy disk (any 90's kids out there remember those?), which ended up malfunctioning and sending my story into a black hole of nothingness. Alas, the adventures of the great Jim Trewell will never see the light of day.

But it was an important story for me to write, because everyone has to start somewhere. It was motivation for me to continue reading, writing, and learning as much as I can about the craft. The beauty of writing is that anyone can enjoy it and excel at it, whether you're 15-year-old S.E. Hinton or 73-year-old Stephen King.

How about you? What started the fire for you? Comment below (and please keep it clean and respectful)!

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