Telling my writer’s origin story as a fairytale.
Hey, y’all. My name is Scott Ninneman, and I’m thrilled you opened this story. After writing dozens of about-me posts over the years, I decided this time to tell my story as a fairytale. I hope you enjoy it.
Once upon a time, there was a little boy growing up in the snow-covered fields of central Wisconsin. Sitting on his childhood bunk bed, he cried in grief as he read of the passing of a word-wise arachnid. He closed the cover of Charlotte’s Web, both devastated and awed. An exciting reality dawned in his mind. The power of words opened his eyes, and he vowed to learn to wield such power.
As he grew, caring teachers taught him unfamiliar words and the skill to brandish them. His father gave him a manual typewriter, and he taught himself to type with the loud clacking keys. He found no greater joy than pounding away on the antique device as he learned to rearrange his word collection in unique ways.
By fifth grade, his father entrusted him with an electric typewriter, the equivalent of a big-boy sword. The little boy was a god among men and used his humming friend to create family newsletters and his first book.
If This is Adolescence, Let’s Skip It! was the story of a boy who received 500 million dollars, did everything he could for his friends, and argued with his sister and her pet ostrich. Only five people ever read it, and that may have been five too many.
As he grew and saw more of the world, the boy moved away from his words like the rest of his childhood toys. He still loved the words, but fascinating adventures awaited him. As he walked fresh paths, the wonder of girls intoxicated him, and his quest for power slipped into a quiet place in the back of his mind.
Like any skilled swordsman on a quest, the young man came across dragons he needed to slay. His first dragon came as a monster in the night. He never saw it in daylight or looked it in the eye, but he knew enough to be afraid. The beast damaged him in ways little boys should never know. Secrets kept, he hid the story of his first dragon for years to come.
Time went by, the teen years coming and flying by. With each new year, he added to his secret collection. Where he had once collected words for the joy of stringing them together, he now stuffed secrets. The devastating tales filled tattered-and-torn baggage, the overflow oozing from the seams.
Believing himself to be a valiant, mighty man, he tried to fight on his own. The battles he met next were unlike anything he had trained for. The survival part of his brain told him to run. So run he did, leaving the White Wonderland of Wisconsin far behind and creating a new home in the lush, green mountains of southeast Tennessee. He hoped he had left all his monsters behind.
At age 23, another dragon called bipolar disorder received its name and nearly cost him his life. Our hero fought with all his might, but the monster was one he couldn’t destroy on his own. The dragon mortally wounded him, leaving him with battle scars still present today. Never vanquished, the beast marches alongside him day after day.
In his thirties, a gnarled old woman cursed him with a new enemy, causing his body to turn against him. Riddled with pain and unexplainable symptoms, our hero spent years visiting sages to determine what was happening. After spending all of his gold, our hero learned he was fighting another dragon, this one invisible. The vicious monster revealed its name as Familial Mediterranean Fever.
Similar to the bipolar monster, this beast attacked him from the inside. With scales immune to the thrusts of his sword, the dragon breathed his fiery breath, causing excruciating pain every day. Out-of-control inflammation during attacks crushed his vital organs, and the heat from the dragon’s nostrils left our hero exhausted every night.
Our hero refused to quit. His dragon had a name. Armed with that knowledge, the warrior learned how to fight the beast. In time, he learned to dance with the two dragons that seemed eternally chained to him.
In his early years, our hero learned too well how to hide his battle scars. He feared sharing his dragon stories, even with other warriors. He wanted no one to know he lacked the power to vanquish the monsters.
Along the way, too many fellow heroes fell to the fiery breath of similar dragons. His hero’s heart scolded him. Had he shared his struggles, would his comrades still stand? He knew how to battle the dragons, but he held his wisdom firmly concealed, like all the other secrets in his leather bags.
Our hero holds no magic. The power to bring his fallen friends back to life was not his to wield. Was there anything he could do to keep others from falling? The question weighed on him with the weight of 50 dragons.
In the early morning hours of a day in February 2018, the bipolar beast forcing him awake, the tale of the spider returned to our hero. Charlotte had introduced him to the power of words, and his zeal for the art awakened in him. He vowed to return to the writer’s path.
With more fear than ever before, our hero lifted his powerful sword and knighted the blog, Speaking Bipolar. His love of words flooded back to him. As if someone else were giving him the words, he scribbled words so fast his hand could hardly keep up.
The warrior wrote inspiring posts about his life. He told tales of how he battled his mental and chronic illness dragons. He even dipped his toes in the poetry pool now and then. While the rhyming verse would never be his greatest strength, the selective words taught him to share his deepest feelings with the fewest words.
The life of his childhood dreams was finally within his grasp. His mission to help fellow heroes was now a well-lit path before him.
Today, our hero meanders through the pages of Medium, visiting similar heroes, learning their tales, and sharing his own. Our hero may never bear the power of the artist behind the spider’s words, but he’s found his true love and a place to dance with the dreams of his younger years.
Here, he shares his powerful chains of words linked in intricate patterns. He tells the stories of the monsters he’s slain and the beasts that forced him to make peace with them. Through his tales, he hopes others will find the strength they need to battle their own dragons.
The power of words shines brightly when their author unpacks his baggage and shares his secrets. No longer a little boy, our hero hopes you’ll follow the aging warrior he’s become.
May you read his words and walk his paths as he endeavors to spread joy in the land. He’ll teach you how to battle the illness dragons while still remembering there’s always a sun up in the sky. Through verse and prose, our hero will show you how clouds hold dreams as well as rain.
That he’s still here, sporting his sword, is proof you can continue to fight, too.
Until next time, keep fighting.
This story first appeared on Medium June 18, 2022.