In elementary school, when we were assigned to write out sentences using our spelling words, mine told a story. One time one of my teachers told me to stop being so silly (because the story that week was about a bunch of farm animals, and I named one of them LL Cow J [yes, I did grow up in the 90s, why do you ask?]).
Talk about a creativity stifler.
In fifth grade, my teacher introduced me to one of my favorite books of all time. It's called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and was written by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote the better-known Jumanji and The Polar Express.
The book consists of fourteen pictures, each with a title and short caption. Van Allsburg explains in the introduction that the pictures were given to an editor he knew, by a man named Harris Burdick. Mr. Burdick asked the editor if he would be interested in publishing the stories that went along with each picture. When the editor said he'd be very interested, Mr. Burdick promised to return the next day with the rest of the stories.
But he never came back.
Okay, well, that was sixteen years ago, and I'm still not sure if that part is true or not.
During creative writing time, my fifth grade teacher would sometimes hand out copies of the pictures from the book, and ask us to write stories based on the pictures and captions. Those were my favorite creative writing days. Here's one of the pictures I chose:
And here's the one that inspired what became my NaNoWriMo novel in 2011 (It's also the cover of the book):
Last week, I was trying (with no success) to remember the title of Lemony Snicket's new book so I could reserve it at the library. I tried an author search instead, knowing I'd have to scroll through all those darn Series of Unfortunate Events books before I found the new one I wanted. But look what I found instead:
Lemony Snicket wrote the introduction to a book of stories based on the pictures from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
Real authors wrote stories to go along with the pictures and captions, just like I had done! I had to have that book. Surprisingly (not), no one had it checked out, so I was able to pick it up right away.
I just finished reading it this afternoon, and it was every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. My lifelong obsession with Harris Burdick and his mysteries has been satisfied. Some of my favorite authors, like Lois Lowry and Louis Sachar, wrote stories! Even Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, each wrote a story!
I feel like a little part of my life is complete.
And Lemony Snicket's introduction made me laugh out loud.