Saturday, July 16, 2011
Thirty Years Later
It occurred to me recently that I wrote my first proper short-story approximately 30 years ago. I can't remember the exact month, but I'm sure it was sometime in 1981. That story no longer exists but I do remember a few things about it. I recall, for example, that it was entitled 'The Journey of Mountain Hawk' and that it was based on a true historical incident: the ill-fated expedition of the conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1542. The main character of my story was based on 'The Turk', an Indian who offered to guide Coronado to the mythical city of Quivira where the people supposedly drank from golden cups hanging on the trees. Almost certainly 'The Turk' was attempting to trick Coronado and his men into the desert, in the hope they would get lost and die of thirst. Clearly he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to foil the plans of the invaders of his country and I was sufficiently impressed by the nobility and courage of this act to attempt my own fictional tribute... As can be seen above, Frederic Remington created a superb painting illustrating Coronado's expedition.
I have absolutely no idea what my second short story was about, nor my third, fourth, fifth, sixth. Everything I wrote before 1989 has been lost. I do know, however, that the themes I chose were generally beyond my abilities. Having said that, I still occasionally milk those early ideas; and occasionally I rewrite (from memory) tales that I originally produced in my mid teens, the most recent example being 'The Gargantuan Legion', a sort of absurdist spaghetti western featuring living skeletons and a lasso made from a halo. Other stories in my offical canon that are rewrites of juvenile efforts include: 'Death of an English Teacher', 'The Forest Chapel Bell', 'The Falling Star', 'Zumbooruk', 'The Chimney', 'Learning to Fall', 'The Evil Side of Reginald Burke', 'The Desiccated Sage', 'Castle Cesare', 'Nightmare Alley', 'The Yeasty Rise and Half-Baked Fall of Lyndon Williams' and several others. The original versions were all written before the age of 16. I can only hope that the rewrites are superior, but who knows?
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