A Faithful Friend

I peg my official “when I started writing” age at 8.  That’s when I wrote my first poem and when I started the first book I would actually finish.  Prior to that, I had started many books that never made it past the first page.  Or the first sentence.  Or the title.  On one occasion, I can recall talking my mom into drawing a cover art picture for me; it was the picture of a snow leopard.  That’s as far as that story ever got.  I don’t remember a plot or a title, and don’t believe I ever wrote one word about the snow leopard, although I think his name was Rocky.  So, I’m not sure what made “A Faithful Friend” different.  Perhaps I had just reached a level of maturity and commitment to my craft that should be expected at the advanced age of, you know, 8.  Maybe I was still coasting off the heady success of my first poem and the accolades it received from the masses (aka, my parents).  Maybe it was just the first time the story needed to come out, the first time the characters were real enough, important enough for me to soldier on with them.

I don’t remember much about the book; sadly, I don’t have any copies of it, or any part of it remaining.  Considering I didn’t know how to use a word processor until I was in high school, this book was on notebook paper, written with a mechanical pencil (always mechanical: I can’t stand other pencils).  I can’t tell you how long it was, how many chapters, or many of the major plot lines.  I remember there were two girls (age unknown), sisters (maybe twins?) whose names were Tami and Tiffany.  Later in the book, they would have a little brother, Timothy.  The book opened with a sentence that, if not word for word, was very close to this: “Farmer Jones marched out to the barn with a bag in his hand and a scowl on his face.”  And yes, I did use the word “scowl”, I remember because people were impressed I knew it (I probably asked my mom for help).  Maybe not the best opening sentence, but not bad for an 8-year-old.  See, Farmer Jones’ collie dog had given birth to puppies and he didn’t want them.  So he put them all in a bag and dropped them along the side the road.  Enter our two protagonist sisters.  Tami and Tiffany rescued the pups which were (of course) purebred collies.  They were each allowed (of course) to keep one and found loving homes (of course) for the rest of the dogs.  Tiffany named her pup Firecracker and Tami called hers Flash.  Flash was truly the hero of the story and was a rare (aka, unheard of and completely made up) silver collie.  After that, I remember very little about the book until the end.  Little Timmy, born around chapter ???, wanders off at the tender age of two and falls into a river (drama, tragedy, suspense: my story had it all).  Luckily for all involved, hero-dog Flash was able to save him from a certain watery demise.   The last sentence of the book ends with Tami hugging Flash and telling him, “You truly are a faithful friend”.

I laugh, I shake my head, I may even scoff, just a little, at these early attempts.  But hey, none of the greats wrote their best-sellers at the age of 8.  I have completed six novels (of various length, subject matter and talent level) since that first and I know I have improved with each one.  In fact, in reading back through my latest in order to edit, revise, add to, divide and in all other manners “fix”, I still frequently laugh, shake my head and scoff, just a little, at my attempts.  But, I’m glad.  It means I can see growth.  It means I’m making improvements.  And the more I improve, the closer I am to one day making my dream of being a published novelist come true.  So, no matter how much I laugh, shake my head or scoff, I will always be grateful for “A Faithful Friend” and look back with extreme fondness, because despite anything it may or may not have been, it was still my first 🙂

 

~ S.D. Bullard

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~ by sdbullard on July 29, 2013.

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