I started writing stories when I was very young. The earliest story I actually recall was an X-Files fanfiction in the third grade as a school assignment. I don’t remember what grade it received, or even what the requirements of the assignment were, but I recall I tried to conceal the fact it was fanfiction by only addressing Mulder and Scully as “Fox and Dana.” The story involved an orphan girl, who turned out to be the daughter of X-Files villain Eugene Victor Tooms, who could speak to animals and had a pet cat and cobra.
I’m sure it was horrible.
In fifth grade, I think I made my first push are writing a longer-length, structured work. I used a book analysis worksheet my fifth grade teacher (the incomparable Bruce Wood) provided to outline and organize my thoughts.
I think it involved a girl who witnessed a murder and the men who committed the murder attempt to capture her. I remember my antagonist was modelled after MacBeth from Disney’s Gargoyles (I legit think his name in the story was Lenox MacDuff, which is a pseudonym the character uses in the series), his henchman was an unsophisticated asshole named Maxwell, they drove an Infinity G20 (which my dad later bought, so that was an interesting coincidence), and at some point my main character got tied to a tree and left to die, but a wolf appeared out of nowhere and gnawed through the ropes.
I don’t remember how it ended, but oh man. You can imagine.
I called this work a “novel,” because it took up an entire spiral-bound wide-ruled notebook. I gave it to Mr. Wood to critique, and I don’t recall what all he said, but I remember he told me to watch my language (the main character’s “thing” was to call the bad guy a “jackass,” and apparently this was this most offensive thing anyone could call him), and that it was very dialogue-heavy and needed balance between dialogue and action.
Since fifth grade, I have never had that issue again.
I don’t remember specifics, but my writing in middle school was really dark and self-destructive. In high school, it was mainly erotica. My next great push was a story called “Tangle of Thorns. I was a junior in high school, so it was 2003.
Y’all. Everything about this incident is embarrassing. It’s not that the story was bad (it was pretty bad), but I wrote it because I was thirsting for my chemistry teacher, did not make any kind of secret of it, and left this fourteen-page monstrosity on his desk on the last day of school. It was basically Chemistry Teacher Slash fiction.
(You should know by now, everything I write is glorified fanfiction. There is nothing wrong with that.)
Chemistry Teacher was a real sport about it all. He didn’t get me suspended for what would have been a horrendous case of sexual harassment. In fact, he pretended nothing had happened. Nothing was happening. Nope, I don’t notice you making suggestive comments at all. He navigated a risky situation like a boss, and although it irked me at the time, I’m a bit in awe of it now.
College was a whirlwind of projects, but most importantly it was the first time I ever finished a novel.
It was 2005-2006. It was awful.
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts: My first novel, Perfect Words, is a serial killer dark romance, and a hot mess of problematic (misogynistic) content, with two glaring plot holes that I don’t think I can fix.
The story isn’t unlikable, though. I sent it to a lot of friends, both real-life friends and online friends, and I got a lot of positive feedback. One friend actually read the ending–it has a tragic ending–and told me he felt like I had hit him in the face with a shovel.
Apparently I’m good at that.
I swore up and down that Perfect Words would never see the light of day again (unless I rewrote it), but I’m such a flake and an over-sharer, so HERE is the first chapter or Perfect Words, in all its imperfect glory.
YES, I sent this to agents, snail-mail style.
Sorry about the phone shadow.
As you can see, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned to vary my sentence structure better, very how my sentences begin, use contractions where it would make the diction sound more natural, use pronouns more often, cut out adverbs, utilize show/don’t tell, and wrangle my dialogue tags.
Things I didn’t learn: to keep bad guy the bad guy. Whoops.
The next project I finished was a story called Gentleman Lessons, a family drama revolving around an over-indulgent alcoholic father and his health-obsessed daughter, who lives with PTSD after being raped by his brother when she was a teen… and she never told him.
When I wrote it, I had never consumed alcohol, had never had a hangover, and apparently thought running on a treadmill for three hours was self-destructive…? Fortunately, now I’m better-informed about disordered eating and fitness, and it should be easy fix the flaws.
I had started this story as a screenplay, because I wanted to get into screenwriting. I got about a quarter of the way through (it was called “Apples and Oranges” at that point) when I realized it just wasn’t working. I still wanted to get the story out, so I swapped to prose.
It’s pretty literary, so it’s not as action-packed as… anything else I’ve written, but I think after minor revisions, I could self-publish it.
BUT, as you can see, the writing is much better.
Why is that?
Because I had finished a project and had gotten into the swing of writing and finishing projects.
Unfortunately after that, I entered into an abusive relationship, which led to four years of not writing (three years of abuse, and one year of recovering the spark).
I think the first project I dove into was called The Afflicted, inspired by The Walking Dead and a nightmare I had. It–like all of my other projects–was massively problematic, but not beyond saving. However, I lost my job, got married, and moved from Florida to Georgia. The project just petered out. I’m going to pick it back up sometime.
After that… it was COLOSSUS. And y’all know how that went!
(Pssst… it went HERE.)
I hadn’t intended for this to go where it did–I just wanted to share my pages!–but I like the result. I hope you enjoyed the insight into my writing journey.
Do you have any of your early pages! Post or link them in the comments below!
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