Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My First Story - The Year Was 1984

I'm sure I wrote stories here and there throughout elementary and middle school, but the first story I wrote with intent was called, "A Few Changes". I wrote it my freshman year in high school, for a Creative Writing class.

That was a lot of years ago.

I believe I typed it on my Commodore Vic20 (that's a computer, kids) that I had bought with my own money when I was ten. There was some sort problem between the computer and the printer because double letters would print randomly on the page. The one and only copy I have of the story is testament to that. We never did figure out the problem, nor did the geniuses at The Federated Group. No Geek Squad back then.

The story is about 500 words. Nowadays we would call that flash fiction. That term didn't exist when I wrote it. "A Few Changes" is a quirky little story about the end of the world - and there's a blatant Douglas Adams reference regarding Norway. For reasons I'll explain in the next paragraph, I hesitate to tell you any more.

The scary thing is, as I look over this manuscript – double letters and all – I'm thinking that with a little polish, there are a few pro markets I could send this to. That doesn't seem right, of course. But, why not? Wouldn't it be the funniest thing if 30-year-ago me actually knew how to get my third SFWA qualifying sale? So I am throwing down a challenge to myself. I am going to clean this story up and start submitting it. I'll keep you updated on its rejections and responses.

This is a funny parallel to something that happened a few days ago. In a quest for fodder for a new middle grade SF novel, I pulled out my 2009 NaNoWriMo book. This was the first, and only, time I did NaNoWriMo. The story was horrible, no two ways about it. The characters, however, are quite intriguing. I'm almost certain that I'm going to recycle them somewhere, sometime soon.

When we first start writing, before we have a clue what we're doing, I think we have an instinctual ability that emerges from enthusiasm and ignorance. This is why I never throw anything away, no matter how bad it is. I have stolen from myself countless times. Sometimes it's just a name, sometimes a concept, or even chunks of story line. Everything I know now built upon what came before it, so I see no reason not to re-use some of the bricks.

Go ahead. Take a look at your old work. Look for the gems in the pile of doody. You may be surprised at what you find. Past writer you might have been smarter than you think. At the very least, you'll be able to see how far you've come. And who couldn't use that little ego-boost now and again?

On the other hand, it might be good for a laugh, and that's never a bad thing.

Now, off to do a little editing on a certain old story…


  1. I'm having a similar experience with my first story Trina! (As you'll see when I write my post on Friday) Good luck with the editing. I can't wait to see how it goes for you!

  2. Timing. I just found some of my old stuff while cleaning out around here. :)

  3. Nice! I like to mine my old stuff too. Great post. I'm looking forward to talking about my first story too now.


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