“The Naked Turkey” or how I came to realize that I couldn’t write fiction

Nov 23, 2010 | 1 comment

Pounds: 17.5 – Anticipation: boundless

     At this time of year, when the contents of the refrigerator are all mooshed together to make room for ‘the bird,’ I can’t help but remember the first and only piece of fiction I ever had published.  It was a story called “The Naked Turkey” and it was printed on The Children’s Page of the Oakland Tribune in 1945.  I was nine years old and I had my first by-line!
     I also remember that I didn’t feel as good about that story being in the paper as I should have.  That’s because it wasn’t my idea.  My only desire was to get published, but I had no concept of what to write about.  I still see myself sitting at the table in our little breakfast nook at 1320 Versailles Avenue in Alameda, bothering my mother to the point of distraction for an idea.  Any idea.  (And, no doubt rejecting one after another.)
     Finally, she dredged up a memory of a story she had written when she was a school girl.  It was about a turkey that had been plucked and readied for cooking but wasn’t really dead.  Somehow that bird managed to get out of the refrigerator and escape the farmer’s wife and live happily ever after.
     I remember that my logical little mind could not understand how a turkey without its “insides” could come to life.  “The willing suspension of disbelief” was not a concept known to me at that time, so my mother had to take me step-by-step through my writing process.  Knowing  that the story wasn’t quite mine was the first glimmer I had that writing fiction was not for me.  That realization didn’t quell my desire to write, however; instead, it led me to major in journalism in college and to turn my writing interests toward non-fiction where my limited imagination wasn’t a primary requirement.   

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Well, you must have done your mother’s story justice to get it published and the fact that you weren’t as happy as you would like to have been shows that your moral character was set at an early age. As someone who works with high school students who have access to the Internet I know that many of them haven’t the scruples that you had at the age of nine. Thank you for the naked truth!

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