Origin blogfest: What happens next.


What started me wanting to be a writer? I won’t answer what happened to make me actually start writing the book that led to the novel that is now published – that story has been documented, and I don’t think answers the spirit of what this post is about.

I could go back to high school and tell you about a great teacher who loved everything I wrote and encouraged me to consider "author" as an answer to the age old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But that is ground covered by so many others that the story is beyond cliché – it is archetypal.

Instead, I will go back to the beginning, and a friend I had when I was 7. This isn’t the point where superman puts on the cape, rather the bit where he lifts up the truck in his red undies.

I grew up in rural Australia: a typical country setting: cows and trees and lots of grass; and typical characters, small town folk who like things neatly compartmentalised. I did not fit into the mold of sport playing, motorbike riding boy, and so I was ostracized accordingly. But there was another boy my age, Brett Wood, and he was everything anyone in this small place could hope a child would be. He was a sportsman of fine repute; he could do wheelies on a push bike and ride a motor bike with two, three and four wheels. Later he went on to join the army and won a medal of honor rescuing civilians in Afganistan. It was also in Afganistahn where he died a hero.




But when we were young, Brett did something much more heroic – for a seven year old at least – he decided to befriend a boy who was everything he was not. Me. This made no sense to the others our age, nor me to be honest. I was terrified of sporting implements almost as much as motorbikes, and whilst I lived around the corner (3 farms away to be precise) Brett was a dairy farmer’s son, and my parents lived on a block of bush with trees instead of cows. Yet for some reason Brett would talk to me in the schoolyard, and even allow me entry into the secret circle of hushed boys handing around torn and grubby pages from a penthouse he had stolen from beneath his step father's bed. The other boys eyed me cautiously at first, and some even tried to send me back to the marble games in the main playground -- but Brett was their leader. As long as he was around, I was safe.

It was not long before I realised what it was I brought to the relationship. I could quote Star Wars almost word for word and I had an unparalleled collection of movies that included all the adult rated Bruce Lee films. I had recorded them all from late night television on a VHS machine (painstakingly editing out the adds of course) and catalogued them into a cross referenced time-coded library to make searching for a particular film (or scene) easy. I was as close to the IMDB and the Pirate Bay that you could find in 1986. It also helped that my parents were a little ahead of the curve and had purchased one of the first apple computers, and both Brett and I were more than a little addicted to a game called Karateka. Good times. 

Then one day, walking back from Brett's farm, it happened. We were talking about the end of the Neverending Story, and Brett asked me what happened next. Neither of us knew at the time that the movie was only the first half of the book, and so his question opened up the opportunity for me to postulate. And postulate I did. I wish I could remember what I told him on the walk back to my house. It would have taken us perhaps an hour of wandering through paddocks and bush, but in that time I wove a sequel that made him push for ever more details as I continued the tale of Atreyu and his horse Artax. Pre-internet Fan Fic at its best. I still remember his reaction when we reached my house and my tale came to an end. “Cool” he said. The best compliment a country boy can give.

And that was it. I had created something through the power of answering the very simple question of what happens next. It was a lesson that I promptly forgot for the next 20 years, and then thankfully remembered before it was too late. 

I lost touch with Brett when we went to separate high schools, and yet his death last year still hit me, his funeral more so. What was he thinking all those times he saved people, all those times he killed them? All those games we played, all those movies we watched -- I can't help but think that in some small way they made Brett want to be the hero he became.  Those same stories only made me want to make up new ones.


But once, long ago, we were just two boys, heading out for a walk from one farm to another, no wars nor writing to worry about.

I will never forget that stories can mean as much to people as they do to us.


T.B.


*edit from the 2/05/12 Brett had a tribute video made for him by fairfax media. Please take the time to watch it. 

Comments

  1. That was a truly beautiful story, I had to read it twice to work through the ache that it created in my chest. I think that's what we all want in the end, to have someone listen to our thoughts and think, "cool."

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is the best origin story I've read (and it made me cry). What a great tribute to Brett, and your friendship.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful story and, as Sarah above says, a great tribute to your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now that is a wonderful story! Kudos to Brett for making a difference in your life. And yes, a wonderful tribute to him.

    ReplyDelete
  5. TB, this is such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your memories of Brett with us. This was a beautiful piece in his honor.

    Cool.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A beautifully-crafted origin story, and a fine tribute. Thank you for writing it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very touching story. I'm stopping by through the blogfest and appreciate your contribution.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I could say, this is a beautiful story, and it would be true. In your efforts to convince us of the depth of your origins, you've given us, the reader, far more than a beginning to your voice ~ you've given us a real love story. One of brotherhood, loyalty, fantastical storytelling, and where they all eventually come to pass ~ in loss. It is clear, to this reader, how inspiring your relationship with your childhood friend has been.

    Touched by love for a friend, a comrade in kid's clothing, a fellow journeyman ~ there is much to be thankful for. Thank you for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. By the by, LOVE 'The Dragon and the Crow' vimeo book trailer! Bookmarked! And SO looking forward to reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Scarlett. Please come back and tell me what you think when you've read it.

      Delete
    2. Travis, I'm searching on Amazon for a copy of 'The Dragon and the Crow'. Will it only be published on ereaders? (Wishing I had a Kindle 'bout now!)

      Delete
    3. Hey Scarlett... try this link: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-dragon-and-the-crow/18726910

      It is apparently going to appear in paper form on amazon, but as with all things in this industry, the exact timeframe for this is cloudy.

      For now, the lulu link is the best bet. Hope this works out. It is a writer's worst nightmare to have a potential reader unable to get a copy to read.

      Delete
  10. Hey I just stopped to visit as a fellow campaign platform builder. Great story. Wonderful to have such great friends.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Moving story indeed. I loved The Never-Ending Story, too. What a difference those early friends make. So sorry such a great guy died young. Thanks for being so open for the blogfest.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is the type of story I hoped to read when I envisioned this blogfest! Absolutely beautiful! Brett was something special indeed...and you honor him by including him in your own ORIGIN! Thank you for sharing this with us!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a touching tribute to a cherished memory and friend. Sorry for your, and his family's, loss.

    Thanks for the share. Took guts.

    Bornstoryteller #132 on the linky

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you all for your kind words. I wrote a draft of this about a week ago, then spent a long time hunting through old photos in my mum's cupboard. As I wrote this I felt exactly like that voice over version of Kevin in the Wonder Years.

    One last thing this blogfest, and Brett's story taught me: The dead belong to us. When we write about their life -- even a fragment of it -- we make their stories our own. It can seem almost invasive to speak of them at all, and that makes it clear what an important job it is.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi T.B.

    Your story is beautiful and so was your friendship. I love how your creative spark started with The Neverending Story. That was my favorite movie when I was young--I watched it everyday until I wore out the tape.

    your newest follower,
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still can't quite watch artax sinking into the swamps of sadness. It is still the best fantasy movie ever made.

      Delete
  16. Liked your story. If I hadn't met a few friends along the way that encouraged me, especially my hubby, I would have taken a lot longer to find my way to writing. I had a good friend in school too, met in the 5th grade. She liked to read my writing and even started to write herself.

    One adult friend who I used to go to fitness with told me that meeting me had inspired her to try writing. I had confidence in that area, where she did not. That was priceless. (maybe it was no fear?)

    Am following now. Nice to meet you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a few friends who watched as I struggled to write my first novel. I think I put off a few from ever wanting to write, but I know at least two who are now determined. If a side-burned art teacher can get a novel published, anyone can.

      Delete
  17. Superb! Thank you for sharing such a poignant memory ~ I'm in your group for Rachael's 4th campaign and I look forward to reading more that you write ... nice job. ~Theresa Sneed author of No Angel and forthcoming, From Heaven to Earth http://theresasmallsneed.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Campaigners are all awesome people in my book. Nice to meet you.

      Delete
  18. Touching story! Thank you for sharing this with us!
    I read it this again and again..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am honoured you read this once, let alone three times. Thanks.

      Delete
  19. Hi there, making my rounds in my Fantasy group at the campaign!

    Such an amazing story, so sad, but so inspiring. Sometimes we never realize how much someone changed us until they're gone. I think this is a very fitting tribute to your friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rebekah, It was a strange year last year. To get a publishing deal and then to find out just as I was finishing up the final draft of the MS that Brett had been killed was weird to say the least. I have a lot of old friends I am thrilled to hear have now read my novel, but Brett was the one I would have wanted to read it the most.

      Delete
  20. What an amazing story Travis. Thanks for sharing.
    Dina.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts