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Monday, April 21, 2008

A Twenty Year Old Caper

If any of you have read my Love, Texas Style dedication, I referred to a seventh grade novel I wrote. Didn't all writers have one of these? A work so horrific the shadows under the bed couldn't conceal its unworthiness? Recently, it found the light of day. So in the interest of full disclosure here and to achieve one of my 2008 goals to strive toward raw honesty in my writing, here's a painful sampling:

"It was a cool, crisp, autumn morning when the leaves were breaking away from the trees."

Stellar opening line, right? Very Snoopy and passive, but even then my panache for descriptive constipation reared it's ugly head.

"I guess you could say she was an all around athlete."

Nice touch, dipping into second person narrative.

"I honestly don't believe you," Natasha retorted.

I can almost smell how foul this is. Obviously, my struggle with dialogue had roots.

"Amy stormed away from the table leaving Craig speechless and Natasha with an evil smile."

This is a small taste of the melodrama. Poor Craig has been sitting at the dinner table with a dozen high-estrogen teenage girls for twenty years. Amy returns to the boarding school, pounds some gin and finds a box of rat poison. And the riveting wrap up to the ensuing murder investigation:

"Two days later the trunk was found. A full investigation followed and proved all the facts on the dolls and in Natasha's system."

Yadda, yadda. Apparently, my hand cramped up fifty handwritten pages in and I tied it up in classic if-it-hadn't-been-for-those-pesky-girls Scooby-Doo fashion.

The most fascinating part to me is the grading sheet. I can't remember the teacher's name, but she believed enough in me to send it off to Seventeen magazine's teen fiction contest. Maybe that's all it takes, really. Someone to believe in you until you can believe in yourself.

I would not have made it through revisions on my current, excruciating scene without the song playing. It's where I am right now, pushing me on.

Where are your painful first attempts hidden?

3 comments:

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, your writing snippets are fantastic! C'mon, 7th grade?! It's amazing work for that age...

BTW, I like Creed, but I LOVE Bon Jovi. And you should know...every time I hear their song "Lost Highway" I think of you :).

Sandra Ferguson said...

Lost writing work isn't truly lost. Mine was from college days and a creative writing class. It was bad historical -- more like hysterical, but I read historical and foolishly thought if I could read it, I could write it. Ah, for those young, unstoppable days.

I'll see if I can dig it out for a tit-for-tat sharing.

If you can show yours, I can show mine.

I did end up with an A in the class, which I suppose was a benefit. Shame I can't remember that professor's name. I'd at least send him my published work.

Katie Reus said...

That was classic! Thanks for sharing :) I didn't even think about writing fiction as a career until a couple years ago, and the only thing I remember from 7th grade was a terrible hair cut.

My first attempt is still figuratively gathering dust on one of my flash drives. One day I might try and rework the first story I wrote, but for now, it remains in hiding :)