When I tell people about how much I love writing, I tell them that I’ve been writing stories since before I could write. It’s true–I used to draw scribbles and narrate them before I knew how to write. Once I did know how to write, though, the stories were even more abundant.
During a couple years of my elementary education, one of our weekly assignments was to make up stories using a set of vocabulary words. We were to illustrate them and underline the vocabulary words, but other than that we had free reign to come up with tales within those parameters. I loved writing them, and thankfully my mom has kept them all these years.
Sometimes I think about writing children’s books. I haven’t really attempted it yet, but looking back at some of my old stories, I can imagine taking my second grade stories and tweaking them a little for a children’s book. Maybe even I could include my old illustrations.
Anyway, so in a new series for my blog, I’ll be sharing some of my old stories with you. I have underlined the vocabulary words so you can see how the story took shape. And afterwards, I’ll be offering my collegiate feedback and critical analysis of the piece.
January 6, 2004
“Brook and Money”
Once upon a time there was a girl named Brook. She always found stuff when she left the house. She always found a dollar, a dime, a quarter, and a nickel. The sum was $1.40. She put it in her deep pocket. There was a toy in a store she wanted to buy. It was worth $9.80. That’s how much she found that week. It was Sunday. She had to wait until Saturday. It was Saturday already. The week went by quick. She went to the store. She looked at the price tag. It cost only $9.00. The people that worked at the store changed the price Thursday. Brook bought the toy and played with it for the rest of her life.
I liked this story because I thought it was funny how it focused so much on money. Brook is a damn lucky girl to be “always” finding exactly a dollar, a dime, a quarter, and a nickel. What a stable income her luck is. Brook does not necessarily have her priorities straight, though, because rather than pay rent or buy groceries, she wants to buy a toy. We are never given her age, though, and so the fact that she wants to buy a toy indicates that she is probably too young to be supporting herself and likely still lives with her parents, in which case her financial luck probably acts as a sort of allowance. The author also never includes why she has to wait until Saturday to buy the toy, but presumably it’s because she’s preoccupied during the week with school or finding more money, and perhaps it’s because her parents need to take her to the store and they are preoccupied as well. Maybe her parents are scavengers of money, also, and this profession runs in the family.
What is this story telling us about money? Brook doesn’t work for her money, other than to pick it up off the ground and put it in her “deep” pocket. (It is interesting that the auther specified her pockets are deep, perhaps symbolizing that she is hungry and greedy for money, and it would take a lot to satiate her.) By merely having the money come to her, she is able to buy the toy that she wants. On top of that, because she has to wait to buy the toy, she is rewarded by a price drop in the toy, and thus has money leftover after getting the toy she wants. So ultimately, this story is showing that it pays to be lucky and wait. Perhaps this is not a bad lesson–patience can a good thing, especially in our capitalist economy in which flashy new toys often are subject to price cuts as the demand decreases–but ultimately it sends a positive message for laziness. Although, Brook does play with the toy “for the rest of her life” though, indicating that she is aware of its value and that it was a worthwhile purchase on her part.
I’d like to say one more thing, about the writing style of this piece. I love this very Hemingway tone, how the author doesn’t focus on the details of the piece but primarily on the action. In fact, we don’t even know what the toy is, except that it’s a toy. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to focus on the most essential elements of Brook’s story while having this very consumerist subject—-consumerism, which I would relate to flashy, over-the-top, excessiveness, which would translate to rich detail and object-oriented writing, whereas this story is told in a very straightforward manner, conveying a certain value for the basics, or only the most essential elements in life. Therefore, while the message is one of shallow and lazy commodity-oriented living, the writing style is that of practicality and frugality of words.
I enjoyed this story very much and I think the author put a lot of careful thought into crafting it.