I’ve been writing in some form or another since I was in the third grade and wrote a story called “Johnny Finkle.” It was about a Southern boy with a quirky family– his dad chewed on wood, his mom used to voluntarily walk into fires as a hobby, and his sister hunted vegetables. Johnny referrred to himself as normal, but as the story progresses, we as audience members learn that he throws fruit at the elderly for sport. There’s less than no symbolism in the story– this is apparently what filled the thoughts of my younger self.
My teacher and my friends at the time LOVED this story. I received an A+ on it (which I later wrote several more plus signs after, to demonstrate my outrage that there wasn’t some sort of “Best story EVER written on the paper), and people used to ask me all the time if they could hear the story again. I started to develop accents for the characters, and pantomime the insanity as I spoke it. “Johnny Finkle” met my theatrical needs as well as displaying my story-telling chops.
I was absolutely hooked. I adored the attention I was getting; like these kids had never heard a good story before. So, what else could I do but take it up as a hobby? I wrote tons of weird little short stories– “The Haunted House on the Hill,” “Little Brothers=Big Pains,” a “Johnny Finkle” spin-off, and so many more that I keep in a huge binder and go through about once every few years for a good laugh and a sense of growth.
What I loved abut writing then is what I’m here to complain about now. When I was younger– I mean YOUNGER, like 8 into early teens– I was the only one in my little circle who was into writing. It was MY thing and I had this territorial nature about it. While my other little friends were watching 7th Heaven or taking gymnastics, I was filling up notebooks and thought I was just oh-so-unique.
Blogs ruined that lovely little thing I had going. Suddenly, everyone was blogging their feelings and some of them were doing it better than me and I hated it.
And in my major? Forget about it. I’m surrounded by students just as pretentious as me, just as well-read as me, and just as talented with a blank Word Doc as me. Some of them– even more so. They all have their own “Johnny Finkle” and suddenly it’s like mine isn’t the big celebrity that he once was.
I’ve always struggled with thinking other people are raining all over my unique parade– hell, I even wrote a VERY self-serving play about it my senior year of high-school. But this really isn’t about me. This is about Johnny Finkle. Where in the world did he go and how can I get him back? ‘Cause with Johnny on my side, writing wasn’t for a grade or a check or a clip or an analytics boost. I had stories to tell and I wanted to tell them. It was for no reason other than a desire to get my thoughts out of my head and onto some paper. All the glory and fame that came along with children in their Osh-Gosh exclaiming “Tell the Finkle story! Tell the Finkle story! Pleeeeease!” just came as part of the deal as a little perk.
Come home soon, Johnny.