Kids today have it so good.
To touch a key and have letters and words magically appear on a screen, then to be able to Find and Replace at will, to Cut and Paste whole paragraphs instantly, to delete entire pages, to Save to the Cloud….
Little Debbie would have loved that!
Sadly, such technology didn’t exist when I was a kid just flexing my writing muscles.
I remember the summer I was twelve or thirteen (I think) when I decided to write a novel.
I took a stack of lined, three-holed paper — the kind we used in class — and a sharpened pencil, and then I began to write. Before I knew it, I’d filled several pages with fictionalized accounts of my life, and that of my friends, from school.
I refused to share my writing with another soul. In fact, I didn’t tell any of my friends I’d started a novel. But I worked on it regularly, adding vignettes and characters, filling up blank pages with words.
How I loved the feeling of being a real writer!
By summer’s end, I had my first Work In Progress. It wasn’t finished, of course. And it didn’t have much of a story arc; nor would it hold the riveted attention of anybody other than me.
But it was time for another year of school to begin. Homework, activities, friends … all conspired to draw me away from my opus.
So I tied a red ribbon through the holes to hold the pages together in order, and I tucked it away in my closet.
Since then, I’ve written several novels — I call them “throw-aways” — that won’t see publication.
I’m okay with that. Experts claim we must write a minimum of 10,000 words before any of what we write is worthwhile, and I imagine they’re spot on.
I’m sure I’d find it awful to wade through my early efforts today (if I could even find the manuscript!), but we’ve all got to start somewhere.
Do you remember your early efforts at doing something that you love today?
I used to write stories to read to my toys and later I progressed to writing stories about the fictional adventures of myself and my classmates – just like you! I wrote a trilogy where we were on a spaceship, discovering new worlds and universes. As I got older, we became a rock band and all the most handsome boys were in love with us (never in real life, of course – we were an awkward and geeky bunch!) And now I am still putting my friends and acquaintances into unlikely tales – I should start warning people that they will probably end up in a book!
I think even as kids we’d have gotten along famously, Lucy! I also read to my toys and put them in many a pretend situation. Made them talk in different dialects and so on, too. Probably served me well when I started reading to Little Domer, ha!
I would have loved to have grown up with you as my friend down the street – that would have been brilliant!!
What fun we’d have had!!
I was a poet when I was in my early teens – angst-ridden tragedies about slavery, plagues and general misery… usually inspired by whatever we were studying in history, and usually ending with a heartbreaking death scene. They were always “free verse” (ie no rhymes or structure or anything). Fortunately I “lost” them when I got a bit older… 😉
Really? I’ll bet they were *good*, FF — I like the way you write! I actually started with poems, too, though they were the rhymey, sing-song kind. Not sure where they all ended up — probably the trash heap, ha!
When you started your piece about how good kids today I have it, I thought you were going to talk about writing your novel using a typewriter. OMG, what a pain. If you made one mistake, you’d have to type the whole thing over. Or once selectrics were invented, keep hitting the backspace until you “untyped” the error. I never worked on a novel, but that’s how I’d write short stories. Ah, the typewriter. I wish I still had mine. Sigh.
As a kid, I didn’t have a typewriter, Monica. That was an expensive “toy” my dad had, and we kids didn’t get to play with it. But I do remember typewriters — and how terribly frustrating they were to a perfectionist like me. Do you remember the early word processors? Now those were really frustrating! To only see five or so lines — tops — meant you were constantly scrolling up and down, trying to recall what you’d already said. Yikes! So much better today, don’t you agree?!
I was just thinking about this…how painful those typewriting years were with no ability to cut and paste at will!
We’re so fortunate that technology has progressed beyond what was available to our early forebears. I know some novelists still hand write their books, but I just can’t imagine how miserably slow that must be!
Can you believe I was senior class poet? I don’t even remember how I was chosen. I don’t know if there was a competition, or if no one else wanted the dubious honor, and it fell to me.
I only remembered the fact a few years ago. I remembered the title of the poem I wrote, but I didn’t have a copy of it, because I’d thrown away all my high school annuals. I had to call the high school and get some nice girl in the office to look it up for me. She sent it to me, and one day I might write about that whole saga.
Suffice it to say, I never wrote another poem, until I started blogging — and it was a poem written for a writing prompt that gave me the title for my blog. I guess maybe I should write about all that!
Linda, actually, I can believe you were senior class poet! I love your poetry now and can see you stretching your wings early on. We didn’t have that designation when I was in high school. I don’t imagine anybody would have wanted it! Many writers, you know, are natural introverts.
Yes! I definitely think you should write about those early years. It could encourage others in their path, as well as remind you how far you’ve come. And now that you’ve brought it up, I’m just plain curious, ha!
My first big effort is a 120,000 word tome holding the laundry room door open.
Oh, bless your heart, John! I do empathize. I’ve got three hiding in banker’s boxes (they used to fight the dust bunnies for space beneath my bed until I decided to get myself more organized!)
In 7th grade I wrote a story using the Winnie the Pooh characters. My teacher said I should publish it. I had to tell her I couldn’t do that given I hadn’t made up the characters, had only used them in a story. She seemed surprised.
What a great memory, Dawn! Your teacher didn’t know the Winnie the Pooh characters, huh? Gee, I wonder how that happened! Still, it’s nice to know so many of my online friends started writing about the same time I did — whether we all pursue it by choice now or not!
What a FABULOUS post, Debbie! I LOVED reading about your early years of writing and how different it is today, and you’re so right! As I kid, I loved to write and majored in journalism. I used to write for our high school newspaper and live news show that we would broadcast over our school’s televisions that were in each classroom. At one time, I thought of becoming a news reporter because I loved doing interviews.
However, my main love was photography. I’ve always been fascinated with pictures and cameras. I started with a Polaroid camera, can you believe that? Over the many years, I graduated to a film camera, then a point and shoot digital, then eventually to my DSLR camera, which I currently use.
“Do you remember your early efforts at doing something that you love today?”
Yes, to this day I still have that excited feeling about taking pictures as I did back when I was a kid. That’s where it all started.
Hope you’re having a wonderful week, my friend!
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Ron, I find it fascinating that your early love of writing took you on such a different path from mine! You gravitated toward broadcast and acting, while I always preferred the written word on a page. Interesting how many different avenues are open to those who communicate!!
“However, my main love was photography.” Yes, indeed, and that love comes across so vividly in your posts, my friend! I’m sure having a GOOD camera helps, but your talent and *eye* make your photos artistic!
Hope your Valentine’s Day was splendid! xx
My mom, her parents and sibs were all letter writers. Even the boys. Handwritten. I remember how excited my Mom was when my dad brought home the IBM electric typewriter. What a marvel it was. But for me it was spell check that changed my life. I had a desktop computer early in the game and even know windows was yet to come Word could spell check!!
Novel writting at such a young age. I kept journals but never thought about a novel. I admire your young self confidence. It serves you well.
My passion is for real stories both written and oral. I believe that facts and logic can only take you so far and for real change or healing to happen we have to touch people’s hearts. I’ve loved real stories (with the usual amount of earnest exaggeration) for as long as I can remember and maybe someday….
Katybeth, I’m blessed that I had strict nuns who drilled the importance of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so forth into me. That’s typically one less thing I have to concern myself with when I’m writing. Now having the Internet and the ability to do research immediately — without having to traipse to the library — that’s such a blessing. I mean, for those of us who don’t know, say, different ways to do somebody in … yeah, it’s great (though I can’t fathom the looks on people’s faces if they ever checked my search history, ha!)
Real stories, along with good exaggeration — yes, I can see that in your future. Work toward it, okay?!
As a kid I remember writing in spiral notebooks, then I advanced to the old type writer and finally in my later years I used a computer. Kids today have no clue how much easier it is today to write and organize those musings on line, but still there was something soothing about scribbling across a page, one letter at time.
A lot of writers still write by hand, Pat. Some say it helps them think through plots or characters. I find it extremely slow! I suppose, having to compose news stories on a keyboard as a journalist, I got in the habit of thinking that way. And there’s always Cut and Paste, for when things don’t come out just right!
I wrote poems as a teenager and was on the writing staff of my high school. We put together a quarterly book of poems and sketches. Such fun. And yes – what a blessing to have computers and laptops and even phones to speak notes into. What ease. But I still fill journals with hand writing and simple sketches. There’s something special about the tactile-ness of that. I think every writer loves the actual, physical page and a smooth gliding pen. Don’t you? We’re fortunate in that they’re novelties and not necessary today.
I so agree, Barb! The thought of handwriting an 80,000-word manuscript might just feel a bit daunting, you know!