Authors Answer 76 – Authors Reflecting on Their Earliest Writing

All authors started somewhere. We’ve discussed this before. However, when authors look back at their earliest writing, there may be a mix of reactions. Childhood writing would be simple, but how about teenage writing?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 76 – When you look at your oldest writing, what surprises or embarrasses you?

S. R. Carrillo

It was so boring! I had a tendency to wax poetic about the oddest things, and it would make scenes drag on and on and on forever. I also hated to kill my darlings, so I would get chapters and chapters full of beautiful prose… with little to no plot progression or serious relevance.

Also, I used to headhop. Like a madman. I don’t know what was wrong with me haha.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Years back I was editing a crime novel based on the story of Persephone. That book’s tucked away, but I surprised myself with how much detail I pulled from original myths to create these characters, from Demeter’s failing nursery to Hades’ favorite nymphs. I did cringe when I made (but didn’t catch) several references to my protagonist’s bad teeth (based on a bad toothache I had while writing the story) and a placeholder name I used for a minor character made it into the “final” draft. Who knows what I’ll find if I opened it today.

H. Anthe Davis

My oldest surviving writing is from when I was about twelve, and was edited when I was about fifteen, so I’m surprised to see that even then I had an attachment to certain concepts and character-types, even if almost none of the specifics of those characters have survived.  I wouldn’t really say I’m embarrassed, because my prose wasn’t too bad then, for what I was writing — Dungeons & Dragons-style adventures.  I’m much more embarrassed of the literary short stories I slapped together during college, since I wasn’t allowed to write genre fiction in my short-story classes; the disinterest really shows.

Eric Wood

When I look at some of my earliest writing I cringe. I was a monotonous writer. My descriptions were bland and my word choices were the epitome of  boring. At least in fiction works. Some of poetry that I’d reread years afterward I’d have to ask myself, “I wrote this?” Perhaps because I was reading with fresh eyes, perhaps because I could connect to it so personally, I really liked them. My poetry most always used vivid imagery. But it never carried over to my fiction writing until much later.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

The most embarrassing thing to look back at and see for me is that I was one of the worst offenders I know for creating “Mary Sue” characters (long before I ever know what the term meant). When I first started writing way back in the third grade, I would write stories featuring myself and my friends, or I’d make up female characters who looked and acted suspiciously similar to myself. Wish fulfillment was definitely the name of the game. I didn’t worry so much about silly things like a good plot…I wrote things the way I saw them in my fantasies, with myself as the do-no-wrong heroine whom everybody loved. This was all fairly understandable since I was, like, eight when I first started writing, but the theme did actually persist for quite a while, so I do still have random stuff in my house right at this moment that makes me shudder just to look at it.

Jean Davis

Because my early writing happened during my teenage years, it falls in the embarrassing category. The cheesy characters, dialogue, wandering plot, ugh, it’s all so bad. I did have more description back then, but yeah, still not in a good way.

D. T. Nova

Looking at some of the first stories that I wrote after I started seriously considering writing for publication, there’s one where I’m kind of embarrassed to have held back as much as I did. There is such a thing as too subtle.

And another one literally has more exposition than action, despite allegedly being an adventure story.

Linda G. Hill

What surprises me the most, is that I know at the time I thought my writing of ten years ago was good. What I fear the most is, in ten years’ time I’ll be surprised that my current writing is so much worse than I imagine it is. Did that make sense? …maybe it won’t be that much of a surprise…

Allen Tiffany

Two  reactions: First, it was really bad. Really bad. Adverbs, cliches, stories without any coherent plot, etc. But on the other hand, there was still enough goodness there that I continue to find the stories engaging, and I can still drop into the fantasy.

Gregory S. Close

I am always surprised how simultaneously good and awful my old writing is.  Sometimes I come across a cool line and I think “Did I write that?”  Then, usually immediately after that, I come across a line that makes me groan, “Did I write THAT?”

Paul B. Spence

Nothing about it surprises or embarrasses me. I know where I’ve come from, how far I’ve progressed. I’m not ashamed that I write better now, three decades later than some of it. I’m not surprised to see themes and even the beginnings of stories that I am now writing in some of the older stuff. Some of the ideas in my first novel, Cedeforthy, I developed as a small child. Some of the hardest things to cut are those that you’ve held onto for years.

Jay Dee Archer

When I wrote a short story in high school, I was proud of it. I don’t have access to it anymore, but I think I’d probably cringe at the dialogue and narration. In university, I wrote a bit, as well. I clearly remember how corny it sounded. But then, I didn’t go beyond a rough draft at that time. I should also mention that I wrote in present tense. I’m not very fond of present tense in fiction now.

How about you?

If you write, what do you think of your first attempts at writing? Let us know in the comments below.

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From School to an Accident Scene

It was an interesting night. Tonight was the night that we went to the parent orientation night at my daughter’s school. That was fine, and I learned a lot about what’s going to happen. However, there was something that happened that left a far bigger impression on my mind.

As we were walking to the school, we saw a police car going past with its lights on. No siren, though. We were wondering what happened. After the orientation, we were walking home when we saw the police were up the street. It was more than an hour after we saw the police, so something must have happened. We walked in that direction, and saw that the street had been blocked off. Six police cars. We continued walking, going to the supermarket. We also saw a motorcycle, a couple of cars, and something that looked like a bag.

On our way back home, we walked past the police again. There was a fire truck. But we didn’t know what had happened yet. So, I did a search online. What I found was a police report about the incident.

There was an accident. A dirt bike crashed into a fence, and the rider, a forty-year-old man died. Well then, that was unexpected. I wonder why he crashed into the fence.

Kumamoto Earthquake, Something I Left Behind

When I lived in Japan, I experienced earthquakes frequently. I went through the big one on March 11th, 2011. But on April 14th, Kumamoto went through its own big earthquake.

Nine people are dead, mainly because of collapsed houses. It’s really strange reading all the comments on Facebook and reading the news articles. I used to be the one to write those comments about earthquakes, but now I don’t feel them. There are no earthquakes here. It really is strange not going through them anymore.

In a way, I miss earthquakes. Does that sound strange? What do you think?