Upon Becoming Mark Twain


Photo by: Ansel Adams

When I was young and started to read books, real books, not the comics my friends read and I had no interest in, I discovered Mark Twain. I thank my elementary school librarian for that. She gently guided me into a world of imagination through a masterful author.

After reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I was going to be Mark Twain. It didn’t matter to me that almost a hundred years earlier, he had already been Mark Twain; I was set on becoming him, through me, a ten-year-old with limited writing ability. However, I did have a colorful imagination, so that was a good start.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t write, I did write exceptionally well for my age, but I didn’t possess the mind of Mr. Twain. I hadn’t known Tom Sawyer, or Jim, or Huckleberry, or lived on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. I was a kid stuck in Fort Worth, Texas, with a Big Chief Tablet and a handful of No. 2 pencils.

I read other authors as well, but they weren’t Mr. Twain. Jack London was too scary, and too many wild animals. John Steinbeck was a masterful storyteller, and I did make it through most of The Grapes of Wrath, which mirrored what my grandparents and father had lived through. I continued to write on my tablet. I didn’t knowingly plagiarize any author, but they did give me good ideas and taught me to group words into a story.

The day my class let out for Christmas vacation, my teacher asked the class to share what we wanted to be when we grew up. It wasn’t a serious exercise, only one to kill the last 30 minutes of the school day.

The usual from our age group was a doctor, a fireman, a policeman, and some of the girls who wanted to be teachers or nurses. When my turn came, I stood up and announced, with all seriousness, that I want to be Mark Twain. Mrs. Badger, my teacher, promptly informed me that there already was a Mark Twain, and he had been dead for a while now.

I answered, ” yes, I know, but, his spirit requires that I continue on with his writings, and witt. So I will be the new Mark Twain.” I was in the principal’s office within a few minutes.

I never became Mark Twain, except in my daydreams or nightmares, but I did learn to appreciate good writing and stories.

7 Replies to “Upon Becoming Mark Twain”

  1. Hey you had a goal…I thought you put up a good argument. I wanted to be the 3rd basemen of the Dodgers or a Beatle… it didn’t work out.

    Like

    1. Those cigars are probably what killed him. He did live longer than most men of that era and continued to write up until his end. He wrote long hand with a fountain pen. I don’t think he ever used a typewriter. He would write all day, then in the evening would read his days work to his family for critique.

      Liked by 1 person

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