The first bad idea I ever had.

I thought I’d begin my foray into the world of blogging by writing about the first thing I ever wrote. This is going to get sentimental.

Before I start, there are two separate stories saved on my laptop which I consider to be ‘the first thing I ever wrote’. One is the actual first thing – a couple of short chapters of a story about a kid spy called David Barton – and one is the first thing I ever cared about writing – a 56 chapter novella about a bunch of school kids.

The actual first thing I ever wrote:

The spy kid thing was never really going anywhere. I was about 13 when I wrote it and a big fan of the C.H.E.R.U.B. and Alex Rider books, but I don’t remember much about where the idea came from or  what the story was going to be about. All I have are a few short passages in which a young boy watches as his house gets blown up with his family inside; I know that his dad was a spy, and he was going to become a spy, but that’s about it. Style wise, the writing is pretty good, which I think I can say without sounding cocky since I’m using my present day stuff as a comparison. It’s nice to have but quite frankly I had forgotten it’s existence until I stumbled across it a few years ago; it’s not very important to me.

The novella, however, is probably the dearest and most personal thing I have ever written.

I wrote it in about three months when I was just turning 15. It follows a group of teenagers as their lives become increasingly complicated and difficult, eventually climaxing with the pointless and accidental death of one of the MC’s closest friends. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, though most of it follows either the amiable but troubled MC and an older, more confident boy who pushes him around.

I re-read the whole thing fairly recently, and though it is stupidly formatted and the the writing ain’t great, it’s quite a funny and thoughtful little thing altogether – definitely not bad for a first try. What really struck me about it, though, is the difference I found between myself as a writer now (supposedly ready to get serious) and then (n00b).

Why 15-year-old-me is a better person than me-now-me:

While now I’m reluctant to share a single sentence of my work without having rigorously edited it first, I used to share each chapter of that novella with my friends, family, and perfect strangers on the internet the second after I wrote it. Today I have trouble finishing a flash fic in a week, but I wrote that sprawling mess in 12, plus 38 chapters of a sequel.

I remember seriously enjoying writing that novella – I’d slump down in front of my computer for hours after school and tap away at the keyboard. Sure I never edited anything or even scanned my spelling, but I don’t think I’ve enjoyed writing anything as much as I enjoyed writing that. It is, at once, a reminder of what I can achieve and what I haven’t since.

Part of the problem is that the characters from that novella are still very much alive and kicking in my mind. Not a single day goes by when I don’t think about that story – I know the MC’s family tree inside out and have expanded the original plot way beyond what it originally was. I have a tendency to obsess a little over the worlds I create, like all writers, but the world of this particular story – ordinary as it is (there aren’t even aliens) – is the most vivid I’ve ever created.

That damn story haunts me, but I fucking love it to pieces. Whenever I get a bit stuck on what I’m writing, I think back to how I felt when I was writing after school on my creaky old desktop, surrounded by tatty old posters of Gerard Way and Eragon. Those old posters are now pinned to the wall of my room in college; the drive to write must be around somewhere.

But no, you can’t read it.

JJ.

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