Upsetting People Since Grade 4

Welcome to my blog and my very first blog post! Check in Sunday evenings for new posts and learn my thoughts and what makes me tick (as if my stories weren’t scary enough!) Show the love by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever using the links below. Now onward~!

When people ask me, “When did you first start writing?” I am never quite sure how to answer. As part of school, very often writing a story was part of English class — as it is for most people, I can only assume. So, arguably, I’ve been writing stories since I was able to write.

The first story I remember writing was in grade 2, when I wrote about my family’s move due to my younger sister being born and our need for a larger house. It was maybe 7 or 8 pages, 1 – 2 lines per page, and I spent hours illustrating it to be as accurate as possible – I guess because I thought the teacher needed to know the exact layout of my new house, including where I’d put my bed and what colour my curtains were?

The teacher was pretty creative herself. She got free scraps of wallpaper from a home improvement store for us to bind our stories in, giving them stiff covers with crazy colours.

“When did you first start writing?” To be honest, the question doesn’t make me think of grade 2 and my undoubtedly boring story of my move. It makes me think of when my grade 4 teacher called my mother with concerns.

Simply put, grade 4 was when I started my own little story series inspired by R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and the teacher thought I was going mental.

It started simply enough. Originally, I was part of a duo. My friend was supposed to cowrite/illustrate these stories. But at that young age, I lacked the spirit of collaboration (still do, let’s not mislead here) and I hated almost everything she wanted to add to the very first story we started. This resulted in us having a fight and my moving forward on my own.

If anyone has read the Fear Street series, you know they can be pretty bloody and dark. Think teens being murdered off by cursed houses, crazy killers, ghosts, and fires – so, so many fires. As a 10-year old determined to write scary stories as good as Stine’s, I wrote the bloodiest things I could imagine and illustrated them to boot. The result? A lot of used up red pencil crayons and a concerned call to my mom from my teacher.

Needless to say, the jist of the message was that she didn’t think it was healthy for someone as young as me to be writing such gruesome stories. Whoops!

My mom sat me down that night. All she said was that I shouldn’t write those stories at school, not to stop, just to save it for home. I listened to her and wrote horror at home. For school assignments, I stuck to fantasy stories filled with elves and dragons.

I asked her about it recently, about why she wasn’t concerned like my teacher and how she felt receiving that call. All she said was she had had to bite her tongue not to be rude to the teacher. At the time, she thought it was absurd they weren’t praising me for writing and expressing my creativity and that she had told them that she didn’t want them phoning her about this again. I asked her why she wasn’t concerned at the time that I was writing gruesome stories and she said; “I knew there was a little Stephen King growing inside you.” How’s that for praise?

“When did you first start writing?” In my heart, I pinpoint it in grade 4, when I started writing for myself and for classmates. Thrilling in the idea that I was giving them nightmares or grossing them out, finishing one story only to start another. Writing because I loved writing and not just for a school assignment.

See you next Sunday!

x P.L. McMillan

2 thoughts on “Upsetting People Since Grade 4

  1. Wow! Pam. What a talent to possess! As a teacher for 34 years, I can tell you that 95% of students would love and only can dream about having that writers mind and the ability to express on paper. Way to go!
    Proud of you!!


    1. Thank you! I really appreciate that! I’m glad to have had many wonderful teachers (especially in junior high school) who fostered this passion in me, as well as a mother who didn’t care if her daughter wrote horror as long as she was happy!


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