We all have firsts.
The first kiss. Hasn’t happened for me yet. ASK ME WHY.
The first time you try to push a pull-open door. We’re all guilty of it. And if you’ve never, congrats. Have a cookie. *hands you a virtual cookie* On second thought, I could go for a cookie. I am the one who tried to push open a pull-open door. Walk it off, homes, walk it off.
The first time you lose something and never see it again. It was a purple I-pod shuffle, and I really loved the thing because it was a gift. It also had an Aly and AJ song on it that I was crazy about back then, but haven’t been able to figure out which one it was since. So there’s also the first time you wanna remember a song title, but you can’t remember said song title and you haven’t been able to remember it for years, so you throw a hissy fit in a public place and people give you strange looks.
But for every writer, there’s a first that is most special (and makes most of us cringe). The first time you ever said “Screw it, I’m writing a story.” Maybe it was during NaNo or Camp (which is coming up, btdubbs). Or maybe it was on an ordinary day. But it’s a shared experience by every writer on the face of the Earth. Every artist has an inception.
And years after said inception, they look back and question how they possibly thought this was a good idea, along with every other life choice they’ve ever made.
My inception? It was in January of 2009. If you don’t believe me, I have proof. THAT’S RIGHT. I have photographic evidence that I used to be a really (if I dare say so myself) sucky writer.
WARNING: The content ahead may burn your eyes, melt your face off and make you wish you didn’t know how to read. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
But hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? And I started with Vanessa, a smart-assed bully who would go on to experience cranial catastrophes that would eventually make her lose consciousness. She’d meet an equally smart-assed angel named Germaine that would tell her to stop acting like an ass and picking on nerds like Norbert (the name Norbert used to tickle me—apologies if your name happens to be Norbert). The doctors would be able to save her, and… oh, I never actually finished it. What, you thought I finished it? I got so bored with it I couldn’t even slap a freaking ending on it. How’s that for being a sucky writer, eh?
The story may be beyond saving, but would you believe that I haven’t thrown out Vanessa? I haven’t thrown out Germaine, either. Actually, I’ve started to weave them into other plotlines, though they aren’t in the same story anymore. That’s the point of this post, though. Sure, you start out sucking eggs. You can’t get away from it. Nobody’s a special snowflake. You learn how to write by teaching yourself how NOT to write. You write crap, come to realize it’s crap, and try not to write crap anymore. And even if the entire story isn’t salvageable, you might not have to ditch all of it. “Okay” ideas can be recycled and, by a writer who has started to get the hang of their craft, be tinkered and experimented with and turned into great ideas, even publishable ideas.
I think it’s important to go back and read the old crap you wrote. I do it all the time. It’s a helpful-reminder session to not fall back into old mistakes. Mistakes like telling people a character was a snob, instead of showing them hints like the character’s upturned nose, heel-clicking strides and Coach bag. Or using irritating dialogue tags like “I answered slowly,” “she whispered sarcastically,” and “he yelled angrily.” Or writing stories about whatever happens to you in your daily life, describing it in painstaking detail no matter how soul-crushingly boring it was.
Not that I would really make any of those mistakes again, but it’s good to remember that I’m not perfect. Because as soon as you start to get cocky, that’s when you become one of those jerks that thinks their writing is the be-all-end-all, that they deserve Stephen King’s shelfspace and anybody that doesn’t like their writing must be a psychotic loser who hates puppies or something. It’s also good to remember where you started, and be thankful you aren’t there anymore. Realize how far you’ve come, and get inspired to go even further.
So… what was your favorite first? When did you first start writing, and dare you share the horrors of it? Leave a comment, if you like 🙂