In fourth grade, I wrote and illustrated a story using #2 pencils, in which a white-bearded patriarch faced off with a Balrog in the midst of a parted Red Sea between towering walls of saltwater, while Admiral Sarah of the International Space Armada flickered back and forth between galaxies fighting black-hooded and black-robed ringwraithy-type riders on giant flying creatures because an evil emperor who took the shape of a green-eyed wolf was trying to conquer all universes and timelines simultaneously, and parting the Red Sea and zooming around in spaceships is how you fight that kind of noxious evil. Obviously.
I sort of wish I still had that story, and not just the memory of it.
I do still have the little book I made in first grade in which Jerusalem the Astronaut went to the fiery lava pits of Venus to find Yoda and rescue Zelda and crashed his spaceship, but the artwork in that poor thing is an atrocity. And I also have the one-page story I wrote in second grade about the roller-blading dinosaurs who eat balloons.
And I’m vaguely encouraged to find that I still take pretty much exactly the same approach to storytelling. I still take stories and ideas I like and slam them together and watch the sparks. My child-self might approve of his adult doppelganger, though my child-self would take one look at my novels and urge me to put some talking trees on the bridge and give the dinosaurs laser guns. He’d have a point: I have been tamed, a little. But hang in there. My stories will get wilder. This is not even my final form.