My First Novel- Age 12

That’s right! 52 years ago I wrote my very first novel, called “The Cat Colony.” Jiminy! When I say it like that, (52 years ago, gees!), I feel really old. But I digress.

It started out as a 6th grade assignment from my English teacher, Mr. Ballentine. Write a short story. I think he was expecting us to turn in handwritten stories of the 2-3 page variety. I, however, did not stop at 3 pages. The Cat Colony turned into a 40-page odyssey about an underground community of felines. Here is the synopsis as written on page 1:

Penny loves cats very much. Her brother, Teddy, is allergic to them, so they can’t have one.

Father says they are going to move to the country. Penny likes their new house. In the back of the new house is a forest. Penny decides to go exploring. She takes a certain path and finds a . . . oops! Read the story and find out.

I recently found my handwritten copy of The Cat Colony in a file of my “old” writing and was quite amused at my preadolescent literary prowess! Lots of dialogue, intrigue, a queen cat named Serafina, and a happy ending.

As I recall, my dad typed the whole manuscript up for me and there was a full-color cover and illustrations. I dedicated it to “my dearly beloved cat, Tiny.”

Mr. Ballentine was so impressed that he actually sent it to a real live publisher. Did we ever hear back from said publisher? Not at all. BUT. And that’s a very big BUT here! What happened instead was something much bigger for me, and I can see it now as I look back on my writing journey. That affirmation from Mr. B. got me really and truly excited about writing for real.

From that day forward, I thought of myself as a Writer with a capital W. And the truth is, what we think of ourselves, we become. Which brings me here, today, 52 years later, still writing. And gosh darn it, publishing some of what I write as well!

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