I officially launched my writing career in 1973 at the tender age of 9 with the publication of a story. Okay, not so much a story as a string of words in a slightly less than random order and not so much a publication as a printing…in a small-town (population around 3,000 at the time) newspaper called the Herald Gazette.

image from the book the boy who loved bananas by George Elliott

The “story” was a creative writing assignment for my English (and everything else teacher) Christine Yahiro and it was really quite terrible. Miss Yahiro must have bribed or threatened the editor at the Herald for this ridiculous story to be printed.

My “story” was nothing of the sort. It had no logical beginning or end, no cohesiveness, no pathos, no character development, no humor, no…well, no anything, really, except wall to wall action from the rambling mind of an action-obsessed kid with the attention span of a fly. The story began, “Whistle, whistle went the little birdy…” then flew into a crazy random chase sequence that ended where it began, in the middle of nowhere. Sure, I was nine, but that’s no excuse. This was the worst piece of writing I have ever seen in my life, and I wrote it. Surely Christine Yahiro did not actually believe my story displayed a latent aptitude for writing. Surely she did not actually believe I had a shred of talent. Surely she did not actually think I would ever be published by a legitimate publisher.

Surely not, and yet Christine Yahiro must have seen something in that 9-year-old, hyperactive version of me. Maybe she saw something in me that, given enough time and practice, might actually make me amount to something. In retrospect I think I know what it was.

Read More About George Elliott

“...his most favorite thing is to be silly with his three children. You see, Mr. Elliott is just a BIG kid. ”