1972. I was in Mrs. Benz's 4th grade class at the Intercommunity School of Zurich. Mrs. Benz was a tough teacher, and we learned a heckuva lot that year. One thing I really wanted to do was write a story that she would think worthy of inclusion in the school magazine, because Mrs. Benz didn't let any old flotsam and jetsam represent her classroom.
I wrote what I thought was a great tale, of three girls wandering into a haunted house. Mrs. Benz got out her editorial pen. I went back and rewrote. This happened a couple more times. Finally, I passed muster. The piece was sent off to the magazine. But now I had to hold my breath. Would it be included?
I remember when the magazine came out. Shiny white paper. Flags of the nations on the front. And there, on page 43, with the unassuming title--"A Story"--was the first published piece by 9 year-old Michael Gilmartin.
40 years on, I still have my copy. I see I was very keen on adjectives. (The final line reads: "They broke into a run and never came back to the old, grimy, smelly, romantic house.") I also used words like picturesque, eiderdown, cobwebby, and luxuriously.
That first sight of my words in print, my byline, meant there was no going back. I don't think I thought I was going to be a writer, any more than I thought I was going to be an astronaut--but I realized I loved to write, and loved the thought of others reading my words. That feeling has never left me, even though my decision to try and make writing a career came almost 20 years later. That dream, born from the first dream, lives on.