Hello and happy Wednesday!
I’ve been sharing a lot about change and growth this month. As I reach some new milestones, and the ends of some things I’ve been part of for years, I’ve been thinking a lot about various aspects of my life. Today, it’s my writing.
It’s amazing how much our writing changes over time, isn’t it? The more we write, the more we improve, and often, looking back years later can be an…interesting experience. Meaning that I spend most the time cringing. Can you relate?
I don’t often look back at my early writing (for cringing reasons), but every once and a while, I’ll let myself reread some of my first stories. It’s interesting to see the things that I struggled with at first, and the things that have always been easier for me. The topics I’ve always been interested in, and the topics or genres I still haven’t tried, even after years.
Thankfully, I’ve grown a lot as a writer. And I’d like to think the topics and genres I write in now are far more interesting than the ones I stuck to when I was younger – mostly. I’m not still writing The Little Mermaid fanfictions and book after book about girls that get horses and miraculously know how to ride better than anyone else in the area.
I do still have a fondness for stories set in the Star Wars world however…and all my stories have some sort of tragedy. But that’s what’s interesting about looking back. Seeing those trends can be a lot of fun.
As a random example of how entertaining it can be to look back at our old writing, I thought I’d share with you several of my very first stories today, written when I was around 4-6 years old. I hope you find them as ridiculous and quirky as I do, haha. And for further entertainment, I haven’t cleaned them up much. Just spelling and formatting, but none of the words have been changed.
Thankfully, I was young enough that I don’t cringe too much when I read these, I just find them funny. To start with, young me was very into writing stories with good lessons (an interesting trait that’s carried over!), and those usually took the form of parables. The first one is about a talkative ladybug…
Once there was a ladybug who loved to talk so much that her nickname was Talking Taily.
Taily talked and talked and talked. All her friends almost never got to talk to Taily.
But Taily’s best friend was Baily. She only listened to her friend.
Then one day, Taily and Baily were playing in a tree when a crow flew toward them. They hid.
Baily kept quiet but poor Taily, she talked and the crow swooped down and ate Taily and that was the end of Talking Taily.
Meaning: Too much talking can get you into trouble.
(I’m pretty sure this one came from a lesson I was taught a lot as a child…and this is how I incorporated it into my writing. The people I’ve shared it with recently have found it very funny that a four year old ended a story this way. Apparently I’ve never been afraid to hurt my main characters! I also think I was inspired by Max Lucado’s Hermie and Friends.)
Once there lived a frog named Lily. And she loved to lie.
One day, as she was hopping in the marsh, she heard something.
She followed the voice to a tall tree.
“Please, Miss, pour water on me. No one has been watering me.”
Lily wanted to go play so she said, “tomorrow,” and hopped away.
Then, next morning when she went to the tree, it said, “Please, Miss, water me. I’m so dry!”
But Lily said, “tomorrow.”
And on the third day, again, the tree begged, “please, I can not make it one more day.”
But Lily said: “You can make one more. I will water you tomorrow.”
But then the next day, when Lily went to the tree, it had dried up and died.
“Poor tree. I should have watered it the first time. Now he’s gone,” Lily said.
Meaning: Lying can make bad things happen. God says it would be better to cut your tongue off than tell a lie.
(I think this one also applies to procrastination and not following up on your promises. And again, it features a main character dying at the end… and an unlikeable protagonist, too. I was never fond of that frog, haha. After all, it says she loved to lie! Even though she seems more irresponsible and lazy to me than malicious.)
The Girl Who Had a Horse
Once there was a girl named Jane.
She lived in the forest with her father, mother, sister, and brother. They had special times.
One day, her father said she was ready to have a horse. So they went to the store to get one. So when she had a horse, she and they rode it.
When it was time for bed, Jane went to check on her horse one last time. When her father called her in, she kissed her horse good night.
And that night, Jane dreamed about her horse when suddenly (!!) she heard a thump. She jumped up.
It was a robber! He was stealing her horse! She ran into her father’s room and woke him up. He grabbed his musket and ran outside. And after two hours, they finally caught him.
They they trapped him and went to bed, laying on the robber. Then, next morning, she went out to ride her horse.
Rustle. What? She peeked inside the bush.
“Boo!” Her brother jumped out. “Want to play ball?”
“Nah, not right now. Get Sally to play with you.”
(There’s an illustration here of Sally sitting on Jane’s horse, telling it to “giddyup.” Apparently Jane got off? And neither she or her brother saw Sally get on. They’re elsewhere, looking for her.)
Sally did not mean to: she got the horse wild. So when she got on, Jane was surprised, her horse started bucking. “Oh no!” Jane fell down, and twisted her whole arm the wrong way.
They took her to the hospital. There were lots of people. The doctor did the stuff he needed to do, then he said: “She will have to stay here for three days, sorry. She has a broken arm.”
So they made a cozy, little room for Jane. They put her arm in a cast.
After three days, she was back home. She was nineteen years old. Time to go get married…that stuff. There was one boy: Jon.
So the wedding was May 27th. The mother, father, sister, and brother came. It was great.
Oh, and we must not forget: the END.
(Cue an illustration of all the characters saying bye, and the horse saying neigh.)
(I don’t even have words for this one, haha! From going to the store to get a horse, to laying on a robber to keep him trapped, to healing a broken arm in three days, to suddenly switching plots to a wedding all because she was nineteen now – the age of marriage apparently – this is…not one of my finer works. But it does make me laugh!)
And those are just three of my earliest, most entertaining stories. From there, I began to branch into chapter stories, with slightly more advanced plots. But only very slightly more advanced. It wasn’t until I was ten that I wrote my first novel (shorter than an official novel wordcount, but still a good length), and from then on, I haven’t stopped writing full books.
I’d like to think my stories are a little bit more advanced now though! And maybe a tad more realistic. And not as hard to read…
The interesting thing is that I will probably look back at my current novels in a few years, and think that my current writing is seriously lacking. At least, I hope I’ll have improved even more by then. And I think that’s part of the beauty of writing.
We’re always continuing to learn, grow, improve, and write better stories and articles. We may write some entertaining stuff starting out, but it’s only by making the mistakes that we learn how to correct them.
But even in our earliest works, we all have things we’re naturally better at. Aspects of writing that we gravitate to. Genres that we enjoy writing most. It can be a lot of fun to look back and notice those areas later on, realizing that we still continue to write like that.
I’ve always liked writing stories with lots of dialogue and characters, dramatic ‘sad’ events, good morals and life lessons, and twisty plots. I’ve never been great at descriptions, being subtle, grammar (and not just before I learned it, haha), or crafting especially realistic story events. Even from a young age, I can see what comes more naturally to me, and what I still struggle with. That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.
Well, this has been a fun expedition into my early writing, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I’m extremely grateful that my writing has improved at least slightly now, fifteen years later, haha. Thanks for joining me on my journey into my first writing days!
So what do YOUR earliest stories look like? What things have you always gravitated toward, and what has been harder for you? Can you identify that in your early writing? I’d love to hear about it – and if you’re inclined, I’d always love to read some of your early writing! Feel free to share in the comments!