Yesterday I took a day off from most social media, with the exception of a Facebook post (I heart The Princess Bride!) and a couple of Twitter updates. Partly I was trying to get caught up on what I’d missed Friday and Saturday, but mostly I was spending a lovely rainy day with family. I had a productive day, even if it wasn’t exactly productive in all the ways I had hoped it would be.
But! That was yesterday, not when I was fourteen. That’s the age we’re up to, as I recall. Fourteen, what a year. I was still living with my aunt the first part of that year, but that fall I started high school. Once again I’d gone from the top of the heap to the bottom of the totem pole. But with an awesome circle of friends, I was sure it would be a fantastic four years.
Suddenly I’m reminded of those old Iowa State commercials, the ones that asked what you wanted to do with your four years. Or maybe they asked how you wanted to spend them. That might have been it. Tomcat and I saw one once when he was four and he looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I want my four years to last forever so I can stay your little boy.”
But I digress. Writing has been something I’ve loved for as long as I can remember and by the time middle school was over, some of my *shudder* stories were beginning to have some length to them. By which I mean they were about 20-25 pages long and some of them were nearing twice that length. By the time ninth grade began, I had one story that totaled close to a hundred handwritten pages. My family didn’t have a computer at the time, so I did – and still do – all my writing by hand. We had had one once, but it was so old you needed to know DOS to run it and, try as I might, I could never manage to keep all those commands straight. I lost a lot of things I saved to that computer because I couldn’t remember how to find them. And yes, the disks it took were actually floppy. I wonder what sort of look my kids would give me if I asked them to locate a floppy drive – I still have a computer that has one. I’ll bet they wouldn’t know what in the world I was talking about. 🙂
Anyway, as I have apparently always been blessed with a literary circle of friends, my best friends and I spent our summer nights staying up late and writing to the tender refrains of the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. If I’m trying to get in the mood to write something romantic (okay, sappy), I’ll still pop them on because it puts me in the right frame of mind every time. Weekends were often spent the same way. We gathered at each others’ houses and spent hours together, rockin’ out to our favorite tunes while writing the latest drivel du jour. When our hands began to cramp, we’d swap stories and giggle and brainstorm and laugh. A couple of my friends (okay, more than a couple, but I’m thinking of a couple certain people) are particularly gifted when it comes to illustrating, so our scribbles were never without accompanying artwork. Oh, the inside jokes that arose from our silliness!
I finished my first novel the year I was fourteen. Of course, being fourteen, I was convinced it was awesome and would make me a million dollars. Naturally, my friends all agreed, and the story, clocking in at 334 pages (all handwritten – oy, the writer’s cramp!), made the rounds of the school. It even made the rounds of a neighboring school, as one of my sister’s friends wanted to read it and then passed it around to her friends. I still have it, buried beneath a stack of other manuscripts, and I read through it again a few years ago. While there are some gems in there, it is laughably atrocious. I would like to do something with some of the underlying ideas someday, but who knows if – or when – that will happen.
I wrote that novel fueled by Surge and hormones. Just a note: large amounts of caffeine and hormones are not a great combination when it comes to writing. On the other hand, I had a heck of a lot more energy back then, so maybe the combination wasn’t all bad, but unfortunately, Surge is no more. *sigh*
Oh, well. Now that I’m armed with a computer, editing my work when I’m finished is infinitely easier.
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