When I was a kid, my aspiration was to become the youngest published author ever. I wasn’t really sure how old most people were when they published books. I figured the youngest person to publish was probably like, twenty five. Thirty, maybe. So, you know, old. I had plenty of time.
My teachers, in an effort to sustain this dream, pointed me in the direction of writing contests and urged me to submit my work to children’s magazines, but they misunderstood my intentions. See, with my brilliantly mature mastery of the written word and my refreshing, childlike perception of the world around me, I was going to write legitimate bestsellers that would take the world by storm, full of dazzling imagery and deep meaning. It would be translated into every language, and would be required reading in every class room. I had already practiced my answers for the inevitable Oprah interview.
“Jessica,” Oprah would say, leaning forward emphatically. “I connected so much with Crystalina, the cheetah treasure hunter in Jungle Spies: Gems Of Avarice. How did you construct such a believable portrait?”
“Well, Oprah, it goes like this.” Here I would clear my throat and nod knowingly at the audience. “I asked myself, what would a cheetah do? And then I placed those characteristics within the context of treasure hunting.”
The audience would applaud wildly, tears in their eyes, as Oprah shook her head in dazzled disbelief, crying, “Marvelous, just brilliant!”
Mind you, I wasn’t idly waiting for these dreams to come true. This wasn’t some half-baked fantasy. I had a plan. Every day I wrote, plotted out stories, drew pictures and crafted my opus. I devoted obscene amounts of thought to these books and finished a good many of them. This means that today, as a twenty-three year old who has broken very few records (exception: longest amount of time making a noise kind of like eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee into a mason jar while Taylor pretends he can’t hear me) I have a memory crammed with all these bygone plots.
And what do you do with a bunch of book ideas that a seven year old has come up with?
You put them on the internet.
Here are the outlines of the three stories that I spent the most time on in my youth. They are tales frought with danger, complex problems and deep themes. Read, and be forever changed.
Murder In Flumberg
This is the tale of a brilliant debutante (and also cat) named Giggles who excels at many things. Being pretty, for one. Dancing, for two. Archery, for three, but what did she do best?
CRIMESOLVING. OF COURSE.
When Giggles’ best friend goes missing during a midnight picnic, she gives up her vast family fortune to track the kidnappers. She discovers a vast human (or rather, anthropomorphic cat) peddling ring run by Flumberg’s mafia, and dedicates herself to its eradication. Night after night, she hides in the trees outside of the warehouse where the slave auctions take place and picks off the baddies with her bow and arrow as they leave. Twice, she is caught by mafia spies, but each time her breathtaking beauty and dancing skills capture the hearts of her captors, and they abandon evil out of love for this alluring, yet mysterious cat person.
Alas, this is a gritty, realistic world where things have gritty, realistic consequences. During the last slave auction, Giggles sees her friend trotted out onto the stage to be sold. Driven mad with rage, she bursts into the warehouse and uses karate to cut the shackles off the startled prisoners, who flee into the night. But just as she thinks she has won, just as she thinks she has wiped out the foul cat-trafficking trade for good, the mafia don emerges from the shadows, clutching a gun.
“I don’t care even if you are the prettiest cat in Flumberg!” he cries. “You have to die!”
A shot rings out in the warehouse, echoing into the rafters and startling the doves who roost there. The don’s hand trembles and the gun clatters to the floor.
Blood pools on the stage. Soft sobs are heard as the prisoners outside realize what has happened. Giggles the Cat ends up just like everyone else in this cockamamie world, totally murdered by the mob.
If you can’t grasp the symbolism here, then it must be above you.
Time Traveling Twinkie
In a story of friendship and adventure, a group of animal friends discover a strange crystal in a cave. When they touch it, they are transported to the middle ages, a world of swords and magic, where they all encounter their distant ancestors who amazingly look exactly like them. What coincidence! Twinkie, Cale, Lillyanna, Tweaker and Tweaka (those last two are twins. Cat twins.) must recover the crystal’s ancient twin from the scepter of the evil King Midas if they ever want to return home.
But they aren’t counting on the king also being the President of the United States, having come back in time to change the future.
The Adventures of Indiana Jess
No, this isn’t a Mary-Sue tale about myself and my friends as fourteen-year-old treasure hunters. It’s entirely a coincidence that the main character’s name is Jessica. It is also entirely coincidental that her friends had the same names as my friends, and that she was great at everything that I figured that I would be great at by the time I was fourteen (swimming, shooting two pistols at the same time, translating dead languages). If you think that this is some sort of escapist daydream imagined by my seven-year-old self with the delusion that someone else would be interested, you are entirely wrong.
I think I was eight by this point.
The Indiana Jess series would have been a sprawling epic composed of many different books with stories of varying seriousness. Varying seriousnesses? Varying seriousity? Whatever. Some would be sillier, but each had the common theme that somebody was out to destroy the world, and only Indiana Jess, fourteen-year-old treasure hunter and also pro gymnast, had the means to stop them. Usually the means consisted of a relic that she had stashed away, or some kind of secret mystical superpower that even she herself was not aware of, until its implementation.
Alas, as I got older and older, Indiana’s age also had to creep farther up. Soon she was fifteen, then seventeen, and then twenty, and at that point, who cares? There is absolutely nothing interesting about a twenty year old treasure hunter and also pro gymnast and also fighter pilot with secret mystical powers. I had to abandon the books to the back of my mind and pursue more reasonable plots.
There you have it.
My master works. I peaked at a young age, obviously, and I could never create anything of the same level of brilliance as an adult, so seriously, why try? If a publisher could only see these concepts, if they could even dream of them, I would be offered a book deal faster than you could say ‘copyright infringement’.
Hey, Publishers! If you’re reading this, these are my ideas, and you can’t have them for free, got it? Have your people call my people. Let’s do lunch.
What were your childhood dreams and cockamamie schemes?