Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In My Files

Today I was flipping through my old stories. Short stories. Long stories. Fantasy, contemporary, romance, mystery. It is quite a…collection. Here is a sampling:

“The Blue Bubble” was about a girl who finds and loses a blue bubble that can’t pop. Written and illustrated in kindergarten, I eventually revised this story for a middle school writing assignment in home economics. In the original manuscript, I spelled “went” as w-i-t and “tried” as c-h-r-i-d. Hence why spell check was invented.

I wrote “A Wondrous Friend” (now that’s an inspiring title, isn’t it?) in elementary school. About a girl and a horse she finds, the story was submitted to a children’s magazine for a subscriber’s issue and opened with the lines, “Hi, my name is Anna. Would you like to hear a story?” For obvious reasons it wasn’t printed—to my great relief now.

For eighth-grade English, I was assigned to write a short story about 2,000 words long, I think. I ended up asking my mom (who home-schooled me at the time) for an extension in length and time. She granted it, and the sixteen-page, single-spaced story “The Amazing Trip to Canecateeca” resulted. This whimsical tale lives in a special place in my heart even today for it reawakened my love of fiction writing, although it wouldn’t come to full fruition until a couple years later. Unfortunately, I haven’t outgrown that problem with word counts.

February of 2000 found me in late high school and frustrated by a lack of direction for college. But with a few pointed questions from my parents, I admitted to myself writing was what I wanted to do, had always been what I wanted to do. So I sat down and wrote in a week a short story, “Trial of Mercy,” about a young woman named Mercy suddenly showing up to testify on a robber’s behalf by telling a completely unrelated story—or so it seems.

Soon afterwards I began “Healing Haven.” A sixteen-year-old has a dream and when that dream starts coming true, she races to prevent the dream’s disastrous ending. The manuscript eventually boasted a prologue, seven chapters, an epilogue, and 14,000 words. Hardly a masterpiece, but this story convinced me I could write “full-length” stories—novels.

As I skim these stories, smiles and laughter come as does the realization that I’ve grown a lot, both as a person and as a writer. (I know—duh. But actually flipping through that kindergarten story reinforces this in a rather tangible way.)

But even more, these stories with all their misspelled words and bad story structures remind me why I write: I love to tell stories. Always have. And when proposals return with rejection slips and critiques are less than encouraging, that’s a good thing to remember.

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