Our earliest pictures (and I can remember no time when we were not incessantly drawing) reveal it. His were of ships and trains and battles; mine, when not imitated from his, were of what we both called “dressed animals” – the anthropomorphized beasts of nursery literature. His earliest story – as my elder he preceded me with the transition from drawing to writing – was called The Young Rajah.
-C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, p.6
It’s not surprising to find our man of letters coming to the craft at a young age. How come I didn’t make this transition? I remember drawing a lot at the age of six and seven. I drew things from nature, forests, whatever. Populated by robots. But I never wrote stories or even considered writing anything down about them. Up until recent blogging, I have only ever written for schoolwork.
There are several reasons here. One is that I didn’t learn to read at a very young age. My wife did. Some of my siblings did, but I came to it a bit slowly. Another was that my parents never wrote, or indeed, had ever written anything. Nobody ever impressed upon me it might be a worthwhile activity.
The number one thing though was that I transitioned from drawing to computers. At age 8 I acquired a VIC-20 and shortly after a Commodore 64. I had only had them a few weeks before I longed to write my own programs to run on them. My friend Patrick and I wrote an early video game in BASIC titled, wait for it… Mutated Samurai Slugs. Pat even composed a cool theme song on his keyboard for it. We owed much to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which I was banned from watching oddly enough), though we had certainly made the myth of the fighting slugs our own. The boss for the first level (a block of several bracket characters, all the graphics were ASCII text) would try to attack our slug heroes by dropping salt (period characters) on them. This was when we were eight years old. Development broke down while we were trying to port the code to Apple IIe. I’m not making this up.
Just yesterday I recieved in the mail an invitation to Pat’s wedding. I haven’t seen him in years. I wonder if he remembers any of this.