I was 11 years old in my 7th grade English class and my teacher, Mrs. Henderson who was also the Drama teacher, gave us an assignment. We were all given a piece of construction paper and had to close our eyes and draw something for 3 seconds. After the 3 seconds was up she collected all of our papers and then passed them back out again to different students in the class. We were to then take these 3 second drawings and "finish" them. The picture I got was something that resembled a Nike check but it curved at the top as well as the bottom, if you can get the visual I'm trying to paint here. So I finished mine and it resembled a Hershey's kiss with legs, arms, big cartoonish eyes, smile and carried a stick. I colored it in blue, since its my favorite color and his eyes were black. The shoes and cane were brown. His hands were outlined in a black colored pencil trying to give the illusion as if he's wearing gloves. (One day I'll replicate the drawing and show everyone.) After the drawing was done she then had us take out a piece of notebook paper and write a one page story about the drawing we created. Mind you, we're all 10, 11, 12 years old and this was a random assignment given to us. And it had to be done by next class. She let us use the rest of the class period which was roughly maybe 30-40 min to at least start on the story.
I'll try and explain it as best as I can since its been 14 years but I looked at my drawing as a fungus. A good fungus. A good kid fungus. Who wielded a magic stick that was used to ward off other bad fungi that were trying to harm his village, which was actually a petri dish. His name was Funji. The good fungi and bad fungi have been at war with each other forever and the time has come for him to ward off the evil fungi army once and for all. His grandfather, Fungfucius, who was the elder of the good fungi was very sick and could not fight the evil army. So he passed down the magic stick to Funji and told him "it is your destiny to save us and become the new elder of the village." So Fungfucius trained Funji in the arts of Fungi Magic and he went of to face the evil fungi army. With great skill and willpower he was able to ward off the evil fungi army and save his village as well as his grandfather. Around the village Funji was known as a hero and just like the prophecy foretold he then soon became the village elder.
I finished my assignment that day and handed it in to my teacher, very proud of what I created. I wasn't quite sure what I did because I felt like I was sorta bullshitting my way through it. It wasn't like anything I've ever been given before as schoolwork. To be given such a freedom to just...create and not be so structured like math and science were. But I knew I loved it and enjoyed it so much I went home and told my mom and dad about it. I was really excited from what I remember lol. The following day when I went to class my teacher asked me to stay after to talk about my assignment. That's obviously NEVER a good sign and I thought I was in trouble. Class ended and I went up to her desk and she showed me the assignment. There were a lot of notes, words circled and squiggles. And a huge A+ at the top of the page with a "GREAT JOB" written next to it. She told me she's been doing this assignment for years and never has she seen such creativity done within a short amount of time. The notes and marks were her favorite parts. The names, especially Fungfucius (which if you haven't noticed is an obvious play off of Confucius) and how I created their village inside of a petri dish. She asked me where I got this from and I told her I remember reading a book about Confucius in the library and the petri dish idea came from a science project we were currently doing and that's how I saw it. When she handed me the paper back she then told me something and I still remember it and that was "Never let this creativity go to waste, it is the most precious thing that you own and that is what is special about you."
Back then I didn't quite understand what she was saying, but now I do. A child's imagination is its most precious gift that they have, mainly because they don't have much they can call their own. When I realized mine, I KNEW I wanted to write. I didn't think about money or fame nor do I now but all I know is I want to write and just express myself and create stories and ideas for the rest of my life. Way back then, at 11 years old I found what I wanted to do. I just didn't quite grasp it until I was 20 years old and dropping out of the pre-med program to go into an English/Creative Writing track because I was so up on trying to do what others wanted me to do that I lost myself. I'm slowly gaining that part of me back, and I know I will because I truly believe this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And I know this because this is when I'm truly happy. And that...is how it begun.