The first piece I remember writing, never actually got published or shown to anyone.
Tragically, it was lost to the unforgiving mistress of ancient technology (and we’re talking ancient in the early 2000’s). A crashed harddrive took away my greatest accomplishment at the ripe old age of twelve. What I remember about the story is minimal (I think it was a mystery/horror story. I seem to remember a ghost being a main character), but the thing I remember most is the pure dedication I had to putting words into the word document. I spent ages sitting in front of that dinosaur computer monitor, typing away on the dusty mechanical keyboard (the clack clack clack of an old 90s keyboard will always be peak nostalgia for me) and putting together what I thought was going to be the next bestseller.
I remember my mother coming to check on me periodically because she would see me for meals and then I would disappear into my room again.
The number of days I would watch tick by out my bedroom window, watching my sisters play in the yard. I was convinced that if I stopped writing, the idea would be gone forever.
The bitch of it is, I actually finished it.
The superstitious part of me believes that the trauma of losing that completed work is why, as a young adult, I never finished any story I started. It didn’t matter how good I thought the idea was. I would spend hours obsessively creating characters and settings and writing a few pages, then a couple days later I would completely lose interest and move onto the next idea. I’m twenty-nine now, and just last year finally published my very first completed novel. It took me sixteen years, Baby Ellie, but I eventually did actually finish something.
My writing style back then was, obviously, quite childish and simple. I wasn’t a very descriptive writer, and dialogue was the bane of my existence. I like to think that in the years since I’ve developed a more “adult” tone and I’ve gotten better with sentence structure and using proper grammar. Dialogue, however, is still not my strong suit and I have real trouble making my characters come across as talking naturally. Sadly what I feel I’ve lost is the dedication I used to have when there’s a story trapped in my head. Being a child I obviously had the advantage of not having any responsibilities or obligations, but I definitely think twelve year old me would be disappointed that I don’t just spend every second of my free time writing.
I’ll be the first to admit that writing has become low on my totem pole of priorities, and I’m aiming to change that. I have, in fact, but I can still make it more of a priority than it has been in the past. I’m not the best at keeping myself to a schedule. This year I’m putting together the roughest of drafts of a second novel, and there’s a third one on my shelf of “To Be Written” amongst a slew of other ideas and half formed plots. Vocal has actually helped me tremendously when it comes to prioritizing this thing I love so much. It’s given me a reason to actually sit down and commit a certain amount of time to cranking out a story or a thought. I believe it's made me a better writer.
I think twelve year old me would ultimately be very proud that even though we lost that very first story, I did end up putting my name out there and I did what I have wanted to do since creating that very first story; I got published.