My Origin Story



Welcome one and all to the Origins Blogfest. I don't know about you, but I'm eager to read everyone's story of how their writing journey began.  I want to thank Katie, Alex and Matt for helping me pull this off.  Simply click on the link above to access the list of all those participating.  My own entry is below.  Followers who have been with me a while might have seen this before, and if so you won't hurt my feelings by moving on to the next offering.  For the rest of you, I hope you like reading my rather unique story. Maybe you’ll even consider coming back on a regular basis. :)

Enjoy the blogfest! 

Up until the late-spring of 1974, I had never written a fictional story.  Oh, I used my active imagination to make up plenty of tales and in grade school I was known to organize plays for the neighborhood, but I never had an inclination to put anything down on paper.  That moment finally came when I was a junior in high school and the summer break was just over the horizon.

Our English teacher, whose name escapes me now, wanted to do something different for the end of the year.  She devised an unusual project that combined elements of writing, presentation skills, and multi-media.  The catch was that it had to be worked on in teams of four.  As she broke us down and announced the groupings it was clear to me that some in-decipherable logic was used to select who wound up in what pod.  When I heard the other names in my group I suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. 

One boy was a longtime friend, another I vaguely knew, but the final name was the one that continued ringing in my ears.  Vicki M.  Everybody knew Vicki.  She was a cheerleader, but not just any cheerleader.  She was the prettiest, friendliest, most popular girl in school, who was also blessed with intimidating intelligence.  I had never spoken a word to her, not even to bless a sneeze. I was quite certain that if she said anything to me, all of my clothes would suddenly disappear and there would be no recovering from the depth of my nakedness. 

I was still getting over the shock of hearing her name in the same breath as my own when we received our assignment.  Each team was to create a ten-minute audio recording in the style of an old time broadcast serial such as Dick Tracy or Little Orphan Annie, during the golden years of radio. The kicker…the material used for the show also had to be from an original idea, meaning the groups had to write their own scripts. 

The teacher let us devote the last thirty minutes of class to our projects, so the class shuffled chairs around to form team circles.  Vicki quickly took charge and asked if anybody had ideas about a story, but I had already vanished into her hypnotic blue eyes.  I think everyone half-expected straight-A Vicki to come up with a story, but she bashfully admitted to being better with numbers and facts, then fiction.  Seeing an opportunity, I hastily volunteered to write the entire script.  A bold move, certainly, especially considering up until then I had never written a story of any sort.  But this was something I felt I could do, and it would be a surefire way to impress Vicki. Somebody else came up with the idea of doing a radio spot along the lines of a Thriller Theater and that’s when everyone turned to me.  Could I come up with story along those lines by the next day?  “No problem,” I said, my sphincter now clamped so tight I couldn’t pass a microbe.  What had I done?

That night I barricaded myself in my room with a legal pad, pen, a tall glass of milk and stack of Oreo’s.  I was motivated by two forces, a deep desire to impress Vicki and become a blip on her radar, and a bone-chilling fear of failure. Surprisingly, the words started to flow almost immediately.  I wrote a simple story involving a family who purchases an antique floor-standing mirror and the strange things that happen when their small son starts playing with a mysterious friend he finds in the mirror.

I read the story to the team the next day.  Everyone, especially Vicki, LOVED it.  We then set about the task of recording the episode.  There were acting roles to be assigned (Vicki was the mother), proper background music to choose, and figuring out how to create the different sound effects.  The entire project took two weeks to finish, most of the time working at my house because I lived closest to school.  Having Vicki in my home every day was magical! My mom’s house the plants seemed to bloom brighter and the snacks she laid out for us never tasted so sweet.

Then the day came when all the teams were to present their project.  By luck of the draw, our tape was scheduled to play last.  One by one we listened to each group’s tapes and I have to say the talent on display was truly impressive.  Then it came our turn.  While our tape played I stared down at my desk top, unable to look at my classmates faces, worried that my story wouldn’t be as well received as it’d been with my team. 

Our tape garnered the loudest applause of the day and Vicki gave each of us a genuine hug.  I still remember that embrace and the way it made me feel.

Our euphoria ended abruptly when the teacher called us aside and demanded we tell her where we got the story we used, upset that we had not used original material as she instructed. When we finally convinced her that I had written the story myself, she was so impressed that she urged me to submit the story to several writing contests. Weeks later she was still pushing me to enter the story somewhere, but I never followed through with her suggestions.  I preferred to stay out of the spotlight, content with the only reward that mattered.  The admiration of Vicky M.

After that I couldn’t stop writing.  I had finally found something I was really good at and others…mostly adults…took notice of.  I ended up working for the school newspaper my senior year, but after high school my creative writing took a back seat to life.  College, a career, a wife and three kids all ganged up on me and successfully forced my urge to write into an extended hibernation.  But now it’s awake again…with a vengeance!

The last time I saw Vick M was at graduation, but to this day I still carry the original copy of that script in my backpack.  It now serves as a reminder of a simpler life, the birth of a passion, and the existence of undiscovered possibilities.

124 comments

  1. Awesome story! Great inspiration :) Thanks for the fun blogfest!

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  2. Ah...bless Vicky and your adolescent hormones for leading you to your destiny. :) I love this story.

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  3. What an awesome story! So cool that you have one specific moment you can point to when it comes to becoming a writer.

    Thanks for hosting the blogfest, DL!

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  4. How amazingly cool that Vicki became the muse that started a lifetime of stories!

    PS -- I also got hauled before the teacher to swear I didn't copy a story I wrote in 6th grade that eventually won a contest. (After they called my mother and made her swear, too.)

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  5. What terrific validation though! I've had a teacher think my daughter plaguerized once but no, she's just a really great writer!

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  6. That is a FANTASTIC story(and extremely well told). I used to hate group work in school, and I would have done exactly what you did--"hand it over to me and I'll do it myself!" Probably for different reasons, though ;). Thank you for hosting the blogfest!

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  7. What a sweet story! So inspirational.

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  8. I think I remember you mentioning that story before! No greater motivation than a girl.

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  9. awe, loved this story! Why is it teachers never beleive it when we write something good? LOL

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  10. Motivated by adolescent love...That is very cool and unique. I love it! I especially love your descriptions of how the plants grew better and the snacks tasted sweeter. Nothing like that rush of feeling. :)

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  11. What a great moment. Thanks for sharing it. Great inspiration.

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  12. 1, 2, 3 ... awwwwww!
    so sweet!
    great story!

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  13. Inspiration, however it develops, is a life changing thing. Love the story. So glad you got back to your writing.

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  14. So, I've recently crawled back from my own breakdown/hiatus to see you're back up and running, and it's great to see, D.L. I do remember this story from before, and it was just as enjoyable to read a second time.

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  15. Awesome story ....bless Vicky indeed and teachers can be creepy never seeing talent for what it is. Thanks for hosting this Blogfest.

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  17. What a great story! I'm sure plenty of others discovered hidden talents while trying to impress *that girl*! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  18. This is definitely a fairytale-origins story!
    Great stuff!

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  19. That's quite an exciting way to discover your talent. Encouragement like that would definitely give you the energy to continue writing.

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  20. Arh what a cute story. Thanks for the blogfest.

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  21. That was a great story. The things we do for love!

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  22. Great story! How annoying that your teacher automatically thought you had stolen the script! Ugh. Well, it all turned out right in the end.

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  23. I also started writing because of a school project, but your story is much more fun than mine lol
    Awesome! Thanks for hosting this blogfest ;)

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  24. Pretty cheerleader types don't get the credit they deserve. Who knows how many hormone-addled males they inspired? Great story, and thanks for the blogfest.

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  25. That's a great story....sometimes it all comes down to a girl (or a boy!)

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  26. That is too funny the teacher thought you'd gotten it from somewhere else! I can't imagine a higher compliment - especially for your first script in junior high. Glad you're once again able to release the writing beast. ;)

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  27. Great story. I think we all have a girl like that (or boy) at the back of our memory. Wouldn't it be a kick if she found your blog?

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  28. Such a nice story, Don! Have you looked for Vicki on Facebook or anything? Would be cool if you two got back in touch!

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  29. *A simpler life* ~ What an awesome story, Don! I love that you found the courage to shine, despite your fears, in the presence of young love.

    So LOVE this Fest! Thank you!

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  30. By far my favorite post so far. This is pure inspiration. Thank you for sharing. :) New follower too.

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  31. I have read this before, but it's still just as entertaining this time as the first time

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  32. This is exactly why you are at the top of my 'GOOD GUYS' LIST.

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  33. Wow. I feel inspired just reading your origin story. This is a fabulous idea for a blogfest. Thank you!

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  34. Great story. Thanks for having this blog fest. It's interesting how something so ordinary can spark the writer's itch in you.

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  35. First, thanks for co-hosting this Fest - it's been a lot of fun. Second, that was an amazing story. And I can certainly relate to the desire to impress the girl.

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  36. Great story. Good thing you had Vicky. Thanks for sharing and for the fest!

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  37. This is an awesome story!!! Thanks for sharing and for this blogfest!!!

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  38. I love that the teacher wanted to know who really wrote the play. Never doubt the power of a cheerleader, right? :)

    Thanks for sharing and hosting!

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  39. Oh my gosh, what a wonderful story!! Just awesome. :)

    Thanks again for coming up with this fun blogfest!

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  40. That's an awesome story. I loved reading it.

    Milk and oreos...sounds like perfect writing food to me.

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  41. I love your story! Thanks for hosting this blogfest. It's been a lot of fun, both reading and writing.

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  42. This is a great story! Thanks for sharing and thanks for a wonderful blogfest!

    Jen

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  43. Love this! Nothing like kicking out something so good it looks like you plagiarized! And oddly, that spelling is right. What a weird word, "plagiarize."

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  44. This was wonderful. Do you think Vicky ever knew what an affect she had on your life?

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  45. This is such a sweet story! I think writers are probably born but you never know what's going to trigger that writing desire. Yay for Vicki M!

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  46. I loved this DL, it's written with much heart and humour.

    Thanks be to those teachers who can spot good work and encourage the young writers.

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  47. That's an awesome origin for your writing!

    Thanks for hosting this blogfest, it's been interesting going around and reading everyone else's origins!

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  48. Oh, the motivation of a girl... *winks* Love it. :D

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  49. You still carry it around? Wow. Very touching!

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  50. Very inspiring, DL! Your passion can be felt when reading this post.

    Thanks for hosting the blogfest!

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  51. Great origin tale! Thank you for hosting this event!

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  52. Ah yes, the inspiration of impressing a girl. So much creativity comes about that way.

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  53. I wonder if she ever knew the impact she had on your life ;) Someday, you should post that first story for us. I'm amazed at how such a simple thing like youthful attraction to a girl can bring out our inner talents. I'm glad you ended up following through with that talent!

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  54. That's one of the best origin stories I've ever heard. I'm glad you carry that first script around...I still carry A Wrinkle in Time - the novel that inspired my origin story.

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  55. Thanks for hosting the blogfest, DL and what a great origins story! hope you and Vicki remained friends. :)

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  56. What a great origin story DL. Thank you for hosting this blogfest. It has been really interesting reading everyone's origins. It's amazing what a teenage crush can start. ;)

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  57. Great story. That's awesome you still have the script.

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  58. Those early writings are always great reminders of the simpler days. Glad you've kept yours.

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  59. LOL! DL, you already had the imagination of a writer--all your clothes would disappear... *snort* :D

    But how wonderful! How great that Vicki M inspired you to find your passion. And how even more wonderful that your wife and kids all ganged up on you to pursue it! What a great tale. Thanks for telling it! :o) <3

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  60. What a fantastic story. I absolutely LOVE this line: "I was quite certain that if she said anything to me, all of my clothes would suddenly disappear and there would be no recovering from the depth of my nakedness."

    I'm most all of us can identify.

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  61. Wow, what an awesome story! Nothing like a woman to motivate a man to do something impressive! Glad you've kept going with it! :D

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  62. So glad your urge to write woke back up! I love it when you write about your feelings...it is tender and touching. The words - undiscovered possibilities - make me smile! Thanks for hosting this awesome blogfest.
    :-)

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  63. That's a great story, and definitely inspiring! :)

    Thanks for hosting this blogfest!

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  64. From snort-worthy humor hits to bring-me-a-blankie I have goosebumps for you - the guy in your story...


    Write faster. Get up earlier. You have amazing storytelling talent. Color me impressed. (I think that's purple).

    Thanks for hosting the fest!

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  65. That's a wonderful story and a perfect closing line. I really like the childlike aspect of this one. It makes me think that, yes, dreams are borne of a childlike innocence and optimism.

    Thanks for this blogfest. I'm really benefiting from it.
    xoRobyn

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  66. Fantastic story! What a muse you had in Vicki M. Thanks for hosting the blogfest. It's been awesome!

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  67. Wow. That's my favorite story of the day, D.L. LOVE it!!! :-)

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  68. Great story, but I think it also reveals enough about you to show, that Vicky or no Vicky, you 're sure to have found your way into the writing world eventually one way or another.

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  69. I figured it was about time to visit one of the hosts and practically a neighbor--well state wise, lol!

    I enjoyed your story. I've had a few teachers call into question the originality of a piece I've written. *eye roll. Silly things.

    Happy writing!

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  70. It's amazing what you can do when you're scared to death of failing! Great story!

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  71. This is a great story! Thank you for sharing, and for hosting this blog hop!

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  72. Thank the Writing Gods and Goddesses for Vicki, eh? An excellent and very enjoyable "origin" tale. Thanks for the blogfest and the inspiration, DL!

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  73. Aw, that is so sweet! And how wonderful that you can trace your passion all the way back to Vicki!

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  74. Great story and another example of the importance of teachers (and teenage hormones) for inspiration.

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  75. thanks for hosting DL! great get where u are now story!

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  76. What an absolutely fantastic story! Wonder if Vicki M. realized the importance of the story for your life! Wow...

    Thanks for co-hosting the Origins Blogfest!

    Monti
    Mary Montague Sikes

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  77. Great story! I will post mine when i get home! Thanks!

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  78. Ah what a love-ly story. How great. Wonder if Vicky could ever imagine her influence on you and . Great blogfest, thanks for hosting.

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  79. I loved this story! So happy you threw this blog fest!!!

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  80. I had a suspicion there was a romantic in you.
    So cool!

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  81. I so enjoyed your story! Ahh, the power of a woman! Loved it!

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  82. That'[s a great story, and a very well-written post. Thanks for hosting this event!

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  83. What a great story- so cute it was all to impress a girl ;p

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  84. Great, inspiring story! Thanks for hosting this event!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  85. What a great story, especially that you succeeded in impressing Vicki M. I only sent my crust mushy Valentines.

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  86. This is such a wonderful story! Vicki M. is still probably banging her head against the wall for letting you get away! It would be terrific if you still had the tape and could get it restored. Thanks for hosting this amazing blogfest, and you really hit it out of the ballpark with this and Deja Vu! Julie

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  87. Great story! I'm sure there is someone out there that you have inspired in the same way

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  88. What a fun story. I'm glad you now have time to work your passion again. Thanks for hosting the fest.

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  89. This was a lovely story DL, thanks for sharing! Vicky M sounds like a great lady!

    Have you been to any high school reunions? :)

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  90. Funny how many teachers assume that students are incapable of producing exceptional work. Glad that Vicky inspired you - it's neat that you carry a talisman with you.

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  91. What a great story. It is so great you have gone back to writing.

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  92. Great story. Sounds like you hit a home run right off the bat. My first stories were like rabid giraffes.

    Not sure what that is supposed to mean. Still, I really enjoyed reading about your moment. Glad you're back at it.

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  93. Wow! What a start! Talk about "Houston, we have lift off."

    And thanks for hosting this fantastic blogfest!

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  94. Captivating! I'm glad you've returned to your story-telling passion with a vengeance!

    Thanks for hosting this blogfest, too.

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  95. Such a cool story... thanks for getting everyone to share their origins... am having so much fun reading them all.

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  96. This is easiest the best story yet!!!! (And I've read a lot of them). :D

    Yay for male hormones. :D

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  97. Stina is right : this is one of the best stories of origins I've read today. It was like an older SUPER 8. We all need a Vicki M. to inspire us! Roland

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  98. This story was very cool, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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  99. The inspiration of a beautiful, blue-eyed darling: that's just too romantically adorable. :-)

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  100. Great Origins story, it's truly inspiring - thank you for sharing and for hosting! :)

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  101. Aww! That's the sweetest story. What a great way to come to writing. Hehe. :)

    And there is a strange pride when someone thinks your story is so awesome that you must've stolen it.

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  102. DL, Im here after reading your comment on Gloria Richard's blog during The Origins fest.

    Listen up. (You're in Write Club so I'm gonna presume you can take a direct hit, lol.) There is no such thing as an aspiring writer. Either you is, or you ain't. Unless someone else is posting on your blog on your behalf, I'll venture to say you is.

    Take aspiring out of your profile, my friend. Embrace the call, and the title. You are a writer.

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  103. wow, that's a cool story! I had an English teacher who did something similar. I still remember his name: Mr. Wallace.

    And yes! thanks for hosting, awesome blogfest :)

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  104. That origin-story alone is worth a novel! Thank you for sharing it.

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  105. Love this story! And I'm so glad you kept a copy of it! :)

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  106. What we wouldn't do for the affections of a lady ... It must have been awesome when your first story came together, like giving birth to your first child ...

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  107. To all of you who don't have your email address tied to your profile (thus allowing me to respond directly back to you via email), thank you so much for your kind remarks! This has been an awesome experience and I'm glad my own pithy contribution resonated with some of you. Take care...

    Hope
    Laura
    Melissa
    Tara
    Meika
    Mish
    Freya
    Sean
    Chris
    Juliana
    Susan
    Tyrean
    Heather
    D.G.
    Caitlin
    Steven
    Bryan
    S.L.
    Nutschell
    Jasmine
    Gloria
    Christine
    Kara
    Sia
    Amanda
    Intricate Knot
    Mama J
    Jeremy
    Monti
    Claire
    Sylvia
    Marta
    MerryFarmer
    Trisha
    Li
    Grumpy Bulldog
    Julie
    Mina
    Botanist
    TFWalsh

    :)

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  108. GREAT story! I wish my teachers had given us projects like that!

    So glad you found the urge to write again!

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  109. I wonder if Vicky M has any idea of the impact she's had on you... hope you find her one day and tell her! :)

    Great origins story. Love this blogfest.

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  110. Achieving for a girl - there's a YA story right there lol. I love motivations like that - they're so real!

    Thanks so much for hosting this. It really changed my life to participate in this by changing my mindset and making me realize how far I've come in writing my own story.

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  111. Wow, cool writing origins story. I like how you still have the original copy of the story that got you started. Maybe Vicki M will see this one day. ; )

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  112. That's brilliant story! Congratulations to your young self.

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  113. What a sweet story. I wish I'd had a moment like that. Maybe I would've pursued writing sooner.

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  114. Wow, what a great story!! That's amazing that you can remember something so specific.

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  115. Fun blogfest and great story. Love it. :)

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