The sixth grade was most likely the pivotal point of my life, and I guess that’s where Walt Michaels is a Weenie came from. In some ways sixth grade, at least in America, is the last really fun school year that a person has. In other ways, it is the most confusing too. Weird things start happening to people. I know. I was there.
Before I talk about one particular incident that left a mark on me in sixth grade, I would like to mention something about Walt Michaels is a Weenie. Most people don’t know that I wrote a screenplay version of the novel too, and it was actually quite good. (Not good enough to sell to anyone, but still quite good.) I entered the screenplay into a screenplay contest called Exposurama. It was their second annual contest. I actually finished in the top 100 of the contest. The most exciting thing is that I finished in the top ten in the comedy category of the contest. I’d like to say that this contest wasn’t for kid films. It was for all kinds of screenplays, and I finished in the top 100 overall and the top 10 in comedy. I was pretty proud of myself because it showed me that anyone could enjoy this story.
I had great plans for the series. I wrote another book called Rosetta Stone Diaries which featured a girl who is very much like Walt, an average, fairly geeky kid who gets into trouble but who has big dreams.
I write characters like this because this is the kind I can relate to. I was very much a geek from about sixth grade to my sophomore year in college. Some still think I’m a geek.
Ah, but back to sixth grade. Come on; admit it. Sixth grade was a turning point in your life too. I have several vivid memories of that time. One in particular didn’t actually make it into the book because it was painful literally and figuratively. I remember the day. It was Friday, February 13, 1970. That’s right Friday the 13th. Back then we still had school parties for all the big holidays. Ours was supposed to happen after the third recess. (Do kids still get recess?) One of my friends — he was a big guy whom we called bam bam — pushed me. He didn’t really have a reason, and I don’t think he was deliberately being mean though the incident did hurt my feelings. I fell backward, and when I hit the ground, my right wrist snapped. The big bone was broken cleanly in two.
I missed my Valentine’s Day Party which included all the Valentines and the cupcakes, soda, and candy. Bam Bam apologized profusely and felt guilty for a long time. As I said though, I didn’t really hold it against him because we were friends. Sometimes kids get rough and do stupid things. What’s really sad is that Bam Bam died of a massive heart attack when he still was very young.
The only good thing that came out of my broken arm was the cool cast that everyone in the sixth grade signed.
Walt Michaels is a book filled with incidents that just happen to kids, ones which they sometimes bring on themselves and ones which sometimes just happen. It’s a wonder we survived sixth grade.
This is the site where you can read a sample of Walt Michaels and/or buy it. I would appreciate your support and your feedback. I need to decide if I am going to let Walt fade away or if I’m going to carry his story on into the seventh grade. I think I’ll have Rosetta Stone join him in the seventh grade if I keep writing the story.
I mentioned there were some new things in my life. Meet my new granddaughter: Avaline. Isn’t she beautiful?