When I was in second grade, my teacher Miss Fisher gave me and each of my classmates a few sheets of storytelling paper. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a large sheet of paper with three sets of wide lines at the bottom—you know, the kind with the dotted line in the middle so you know where to stop your lowercase letters—and space at the top for an illustration.
I wrote two stories, but I only remember the title of one of them: Me and the Loch Ness Monster. In the story, a little girl named Margaret receives an unexpected birthday present in the mail from her uncle—a large egg. Soon, the egg hatches a small green dinosaur-like lizard with blue scales down his back, who Margaret names Larry the Loch Ness Monster. They have a few adventures as he grows huge (I think my inspiration may have come, in part, from the Clifford the Big Red Dog series), and then… Well, I don’t remember what happened next, but I think that was pretty much the whole thing.
When our stories were complete, Miss Fisher typed our stories into her word processor (it was the early 1990s, so teachers didn’t have laptops or tablets yet) and printed them out. We redrew our illustrations onto the final pages, colored them in with colored pencils, and then she bound them individually into little books with cardboard and wallpaper covers. I can still remember the exhilarating feeling of holding those finished books in my hands for the first time. Each one had a printed label on the front with the title of the story along with my name.
My name! On the cover of a book I WROTE!
At the back of each little book was an “About the Author” page and a comments page. At Open House and other events, the books were displayed where anyone could read them, and, at the end of each night, I’d eagerly flip through mine to get to the comments pages to read what people had thought of what I’d worked so hard on.
I kept writing. Story after story poured out of me that year. Miss Fisher had warned us that she could only “publish” two stories for each of us, but that didn’t stop me. Two years later, my younger sister had Miss Fisher, and, when it was time for the book publishing, I sneakily sent two sequels to Me and the Loch Ness Monster to school with her, asking if Miss Fisher would be willing to publish them. A few weeks later, my sister brought home printed and bound copies of Me and the Loch Ness Monster #2: Double Trouble (in which Margaret’s mother gives birth to twins) and Me and the Loch Ness Monster #3: Larry Meets Casper (in which Margaret brings home a white kitten, who becomes Larry’s best friend).
I was hooked. On writing, on publishing, on watching people react to something I made… all of it.
Miss Ginger Fisher taught second grade at Brownstown Elementary School for 43 years. She retired in 2012, but, presumably, she is no longer publishing books about Loch Ness monsters and their friends. She was a wonderful teacher, and I hope she has a Google Alert set up on her name so she finds this blog.