There is one story I wanted to write as a kid that I keep coming back to. I kept up with it all throughout my childhood and rewrote it several times. Although my output was intermittent, I was often thinking about it, and it is worthwhile to me to think about that now, as I know it will allow me to recollect many other aspects of my childhood that, without a frame, are obscure.
The story was called Eye of the Dragon. My mom suggested the title to me — I still remember where I was when she said it. I was in our kitchen, and the first notebook ever used for the story lay open on the table in front of me. I had little else in my mind for plot aside from the basic problem of the story, which was that a volcano inside which dragons were imprisoned ‘blew its top,’ and consequently released all the dragons to rampage the surrounding continent. I was in the third grade.
I asked my mom whether the name had been used for anything before, and she said that it hadn’t. At the time, and all throughout my childhood, I insisted on never using what I broadly categorized as ‘copyrighted material’ (including intellectual property such as titles and character names). Oddly this fixation was not due to my desire for creative integrity, but rather out of some nebulous notion that my story would be immediately illegitimized (read: made unmarketable) were it to contain something that did not ‘belong’ to me, or to my mind.
Ironically, Stephen King published a fantasy novel in 1984 called Eyes of the Dragon. I did not discover this until years later. To make matters worse, as recently as 2005, a man named Ian Livingstone published a ‘single-player roleplaying gamebook’ (read: choose-your-own-adventure novel) called Eye of the Dragon. I have read neither book, and the synopsis for the latter is not especially encouraging:
‘In a tavern in Fang, a mysterious stranger offers YOU the chance to find the Golden Dragon, perhaps the most valuable treasure in all of Allansia. But it is hidden in a labyrinth beneath Darkwood Forest and is guarded by the most violent creatures and deadly traps.
To begin your quest YOU must drink a terrible potion, and to succeed, you must find maps, clues, artifacts, magic items, jewels, and an enslaved dwarf.’
I wish I could assure you that my writing had been better than that. But considering that my primary sources of inspiration were a lesser-known Squaresoft video game and the Lord of the Rings films, you can bet that Eye of the Dragon was stylistically dead on arrival.
At least in the beginning, I was never writing it for anyone else. Now, naturally, I would go on to share it with every person in my immediate and extended family, as well as several babysitters, bless their souls. But it wasn’t really for them. There are four iterations of the story, the bulk of which was written intermittently from early 2000 or 2001 to 2009. Most versions of the story are lost.