Vera's First Story in English

You don't know what's going to happen when you write. That's doubly true when you're co-writing with a kid.

Vera is an eight-year-old girl from Russia who likes English, and is good at it, but finds her class in school to be the normal form of boring. She likes dolphins, break-dancing, and math. This is the first story she's ever written in English. I started, then we alternated, going over changes and corrections along the way.

- - - - - - -

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a small dragon sleeping in a cave.
He had a son. And he had a lot of food.
But, there was a problem. His son wouldn't stop growing. He was already twice the size of the father, and he wasn't slowing down.
One day the son was gone.
The father sought him everywhere, but he couldn't find him.
As he was walking home he heard some laughter from nearby. As he peeked through the bushes he couldn't believe his eyes.
He saw a dolphin dancing with his son. The dolphin had LEGS!
The dolphin said, "I've been lookin' forward to runnin' for awhile."
And the dolphin ran to the pool.

- - - - - - -

Writing is about making decisions. And when you're writing with someone, you have no idea what decision they're going to make next. It's an interesting game.

Stories carry emergent patterns about life, about decisions, and every form of interpretation and behavior that we have available at our disposal. That's the idea of the "moral of the story". You can come up with a moral and then make a story to demonstrate it. Or, what I like better because I see the immense value in it, you can examine and think about a story and pull the moral from it.

Even something as chaotic as this story appears to hold within it lessons that no one intended it to have. There was no plan, there was no intended structure, and yet a structure emerged. It appears that there could have been a plan, even though there wasn't.

Humans shared stories verbally for thousands of years. Stories that changed and adjusted to the specific context and living conditions. Stories that also kept key pieces intact for ages. Might the stories we create give us insight into us as individuals? As societies and cultures? As humanity?

These deeper meanings in stories call out to me to be extracted. They seem to just be laying there in the open, waiting to be seen, waiting to be spoken. What will they reveal?

That's what this little writing exercise reminded me of.


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