J.D. Webb makes an Art of Mischief...
When I have an author presentation, I'm often asked how I got started as a writer. I'm not able to precisely pinpoint the year. I've always written stories even as a kid just learning my letters. I can identify the year the writing bug sank permanent teeth into me for good. In 1959 I was forced into a high school creative writing class as a punishment for an act of mischief I was accused of. Okay, the accusation did come to rest upon the correct perpetrator. Unfortunately, my reputation consisted of class clown, class cut up, and renowned mischief maker.
In my admittedly scant defense, I never did anything destructive. I was just bored with school and had nothing else to do but act upon my proclivity for interruption and pulling jokes. I was also blessed with a Dean of Boys who understood my predicament and had sympathy.
The teacher of my creative writing class steadfastly clung to the notion that writing was a serious activity. He had no use for comedic ventures. And he was clearly frustrated to have me in his class because my works of literature had not one iota of the comedic talent of Shakespeare.
My grades fluctuated between C and D for my entire first semester. Then came the final. We were to compose a story which would be submitted to the local paper's annual Short Story contest. Our teacher impressed upon us the importance of our task. The grade for the semester would depend upon the results of our entry. And our teacher was going to have an entry as well.
I penned a story entitled Cinderella Jones. It was the fairy tale of Cinderella as if I were telling it to my younger brother. He insisted that every character needed a last name. So, Cinderella became Cinderella Jones, her Fairy Godmother went by Henrietta Smith, and the Prince was Prince Johnson.
My story placed fourth in the contest and our teacher only received honorable mention.
To my credit I kept my comments to the teacher respectful and complimentary that he made honorable mention. And my grades eased up to Bs and Cs even an A once.
Since then, I have written many published short stories and four novels. And I have never been reticent to commit mischief at every opportunity.