Word of the week: abject /ˈabˌjekt/ (hear it!) - adjective – 1. sunk to or existing in a low state or condition; 2. a : cast down in spirit, b : showing hopelessness or resignation; 3. expressing or offered in a humble and often ingratiating spirit - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
A number of months ago, I helped my mother clean out her storage unit, and we stumbled across a blue suitcase-looking item about a foot square in size, so we opened it and discovered . . .
A Smith-Corona Calypso! [insert triumphant music here]
Wow! Immediately, I was transported back to the age of eight—kneeling at the threshold of my open closet door (apparently the only office space I had at the time), paper in the machine's roll and concentration at its highest, one index finger stabbity-jab-jab-jabbing at the keys: clack-clack-clackity-clack, clickity-clackity-clack-clack.
|Holy smokes, that ribbon!|
Yet on this very typewriter, I had written my first-ever stories. Two of them, both of which I have to this day. Fan fiction-based, short, self-illustrated (like children's books with oddly grown-up themed scenes and situations), and they absolutely sucked in mechanics. Sucked! Blegh. But the overall plot was there—a hook, a beginning, a middle, and an ending—which doesn't surprise me, really, since from the age of four I'd devoured books like most kids scarf down sweets.
The best part about them, though? The pages were glued together along the top of each, like a spine. Two little crude books. Cute! *snuggles them* Typing then on that now three-plus-decade-old typewriter, had I a hunch I might be indie publishing my future works? Maybe. Ooo . . . foreshadowing, anyone?
Well, just for kicks, I would like to share a snippet of this ages-old writing of mine, complete with an in-line commentary from the older, much wiser author I've become.
*gaspeth!* “Like, oh my God! Won't you be all embarrassed 'n stuff!?”
Oh, goodness, no. . . . Are we really that snooty we can't even laugh at ourselves once in a while, and share this giggle with others? Please. All writers have past writings that can and should be giggled at. My son—my own firstborn flesh and blood, mind you! The one who'd written the free verse poem a few posts back—has already giggled, snickered, chuckled, and guffawed at it a gazillion times, and I haven't yet melted into a puddle of abject horror and humiliation.
No. I giggled with him.
Having studied the writing craft for nigh on a decade now, I assure you, my current writing has improved . . . honest!
* * *
Background information: I was eight, untrained in both typing and in the writing craft, and the main character, Daniel, is a small flying horse the size of a mouse. Here is an excerpt from chapter two—wait, no . . . it's all of chapter two.
On and on Daniel flew until he came to Miss Owl’s home. The dark, gray trunk was a sight for sore eyes. He landed silently on a branch next to the solatare [I meant ‘solitary’ here?] home and he knocked softly.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” she said in a gray voice [What exactly constitutes a ‘gray voice’?] and opened the door. “Daniel! How nice to see you. Come in, come in. So what have you been up to and why did you come here?”
“I had a fight with my father and I had to go somewhere and so I came here. For only one reason though. To help me find a girlfriend. [A girlfriend? I thought it was because he had a fight with his father.] Would . . .” Daniel asked. [Asked? Sans question mark. He seems to have trailed off there. Hmm . . .]
“Of course I’ll help you and it isn’t too much bother. [Oh, pfft, not too much, no . . . *grumble* Stupid kids knockin' on my door at all hours of the day . . .] I’ll get my crystal ball. [Ha! Of course, a crystal ball. Why is it every fantasy has some ‘seer’ in it?] Sit down and make yourself at home. I’ll make some tea. Do you want some?” she asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Daniel said politely [no kidding] and he looked around. The eerie spider webs didn’t make this home a popular home but it was cozy. [Cozy? She ought to clean her stinkin' house.] She had many paintings. They were all beautiful. [Wow, that's telling the reader! Literally.] Then his eyes came across one certain picture that made him feel uneasy. It was a picture of an owl and it had a winged horse in its talons. The sight of the blood made him shiver. [Sheesh, if I were him, I’d hightail it the heck out of there. ‘Come, my little pretty, into my lair . . . I will make you some tea and lull you to sleep so I can EAT YOU! Bwhahahahaha!’]
“Oh, I see you like my picture of the ‘owl hunter.’ [Boy, for a 'seer,' she's not altogether too perceptive, is she?] My cousin caught that little winged horse for supper so I drew a picture of it. Came out nice, didn’t it?” she asked. [Ach! Drop the stupid tag. And oh, how nonchalant of her: ‘Yeah, by the way, we eat your kind.’]
“Uh . . . yes it did,” he said uneasily. [Repetition: wasn't he 'uneasy' just a paragraph ago?] So that’s what happened to uncle Loyed. I knew it. [And apparently I didn't know how to spell the name Lloyd back then. Lol! Silly. I could have just re-named the character.]
“Have some tea while you wait for my prediction,” she said and gazed into her crystal ball. “I see a light. It’s Tina. [And she knows this, how? It's just a bright amorphous mass at the moment.] A little winged horse that is calling for you. [Ah. Must have taken on some shape.] She is telling you to follow her.”
“That can’t be,” Daniel said doubtingly. [Ach! Hideous adverbial dialogue tag! (Note: I had another one in another chapter: “cryingly.” Blegh!)]
“Come see for yourself.”
Daniel gazed into the crystal ball and he saw the most beautiful winged horse he ever saw.
Her mane was a beautiful [Now I wonder, how many things were “beautiful” in this story?] grayish-black [and gray] and her eyes were sky blue. Her coat was white with a tint of gray [oh, yes, and here's “gray” again] in it. Her gentle hooves brushed against the top of the tree-tops [why the hyphen?] as she flew silently away. She was calling to him. She looked back at him and instantly he fell in love. True love. [Well, my goodness, that was quick! Don’t you think they ought to go out for malteds or something first? Movie? Dinner?] She winked at him and flew gently away. [Pfft. Flirt.] Her wings had a graceful movement to them and deep inside he cared for her. Then he looked a Miss Owl. [Oh, shoot, yeah. Her. Winged-horse-eater.]
“She loves you, Daniel. She wants you to follow her. You’ve got to save your true love. [Um . . . she seems pretty safe actually, flying free, flirting and all.] Go now, and when you come to a place where you do not know, nothing is familiar, [Well, yeah . . . that's the definition of 'unfamiliar.'] you will come to a cave. That is the only place you know. [He’ll know a cave in a place where nothing is familiar? How, exactly?] You will find a map. In the map you will find a key and a sword. Take them both, and follow the map. [Nah, just discard the map. It's a prop. Every fantasy has a map in it. You don’t really need it.] Go now and find your true love.”
“Thank you, Miss Owl. I will go,” he told her as he flew off. [Wait—suddenly he’s a zombie? He’s been enchanted by that stupid tea. Brainwashed, I tell you! Daniel, no! Don’t go! *commentator reaches out with one hand in desperation* It’s a trick! . . . and a chapter cliffhanger, actually.]
Blegh and double blegh. How terrible, and so very giggle-worthy. But you know, it's fun to see how much one has grown over the years as a writer. It lends hope with the realization that there's always room for growth (and for jell-o), and that truly, the learning process never really has to end.