Terrible First Efforts

09 February 2015

We all remember our terrible first efforts: those manuscripts we knew for sure would land us on New York Times bestseller lists, but in reality sat in various stages of completion and collected metaphorical dust on our hardrives. Over a month ago, Braden shared a vlog on The Storymonger in which he read some excerpts of his early writing. I thought the idea was a brilliant one and had planned to film a vlog of my own, but time got away from me (when does it not?), and I decided to go with a written post instead. The following are excerpts from varied sources, primarily The Story of Elena, my 2011 NaNo novel. Elements of Elena made their way into early drafts of Rifles in the South Field, but for the most part, the idea was set aside for reasons that will soon be made quite clear.

read & snicker

Oh Elena, don’t be so dramatic . . .”
“That’s Lady Elena, peasant,” I returned bitingly. 

The cottage was an open-doored, open-windowed affair, and rarely a day went by when it did not ring with the charming notes of a Celtic air. Though the girl was not much of a singer, her mother and father did not mind the regular warbling, for the former was half deaf in one ear, and the latter was so consumed with his books that he could not have told the difference between his daughter’s high notes and a screeching dog.
a bit of irish whimsy

It seems like such a silly thing over which to have a war. The holy city of Jerusalem. . . . Will it bring them great wealth and prestige just to say they control it? Certainly not. Besides, if it did, I would have found some way to gain it by now.

Aunt Bridget brought a rather large basket to the table at that moment, practically overflowing with vegetables, bread, cheese, and a host of other provisions.”
“Aunt!” I exclaimed in alarm. “How am I to get anywhere carryin' that?!”
“Pish posh,” she responded without concern. “Ye'll be glad of the food when ye're hungry on the battlefield.”
“I don't think I'll be thinkin' about that when I'm fightin' against men who seek to end my life!” I exclaimed again.
“Well, whether ye like it or not, ye're bringin' it, and that's final. I won't have me own nephew starvin' to death.” She eyed me firmly.
Seeing she wasn't to be swayed, I relented. Food might come in handy during the journey, after all.
[Food might come in handy?]

Richard Kingsley and I are here to enlist in the army, sir,” I said, looking the man in the eye with a steady gaze.
“Oh, that is good news—we need all the soldiers we can get,” the man said, looking relieved. “Do you have any experience?”
“Little, sir,” Richard said.
“Very well, then you shall start at the bottom. There will be plenty of time to work your way up.” The burly man pointed to a small tent. “Go in there; the man will tell you everything you need to do.”
["Welcome to Crusades 101."]

Just look around you, and then look over the horizon at the Arab camps. We look like a small crumb on a platter piled high with food.”
[Does anyone actually say that? Let's make it a new expression.]

But how are we to know if the woman of whom we are speaking and your wife are one and the same?” I asked, entering back into the conversation. “There could be hundreds of Mistress Bakers in England.”
“Did she offer you a place to stay?” our new friend asked inquisitively. 
“Yes, she did—why?” Richard asked. 
“Then she’s my wife,” he replied with certainty. “Never will you meet a kinder or more generous woman.”
[What does this say about the other English women?]

Forgive me, but it seems to have slipped my mind that the world will end with your family’s reputation.”
do you dare to share your own juvenilia?

7 epistles:

  1. I had a wonderful good laugh enjoying these snippets, Chloe; I also have to say that your sharing some of your own early writings made me feel so much better about my own early ones as well! I've always blushed with shame at those early drafts and stories, and thought them very dumb. I see that we are all prone to laugh off at our early works, when during the time we wrote them, we took them very seriously and put much heart and soul into them. It is an interesting exercise, since I wonder what we'll think of our present writing in a few years from now? (of course when you and I first started writing we were of a juvenile and tender age indeed!

    But your Elena story definitely reminds me of my very, very early drafts of my unfinished novel "The Crown of Life". Especially in ones like the "vegetable" scene and the one with the soldier enlisting. It seemed so easy to write novels back then.

    I wonder why ;).

    But I still can see gleams of praise-worthy quality in your writing even in such early works! Writing a novel about the Crusades when you're thirteen or fourteen is a daunting ordeal :), as I have found likewise writing an accurate depiction of Ancient Rome in the time of Nero Caesar.

  2. "Welcome to Crusades 101." That made me grin even more than the excerpt itself. :)

    Well, I actually did write about my early attempts, last week—except they're a bit older; they come from when I was about ten years old. There's more laughter and less sting in works that early. I don't think I would have the nerve to share some of the things I wrote half that many years ago!

  3. The crusades 101 quote and the 'Food might come in handy?' quote made me chuckle. Honestly, I don't think my current writing is any better, but the thought that published authors were once in the same place in writing that I am, gives me hope. (-:

  4. It's great to see how far you've come since 2011. For my part, I avoid reading my old writings as much as I possibly can. "I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now." ;-)

  5. Bahaha. I find the final quote actually clever. XD Maybe unintentionally, but uproariously clever.

  6. Rachel, I rather like that last one too — I threw it in for kicks. ^.^

  7. It’s a really great post! Thank you for sharing!
    Like your blog very much!)

    p.s. new post - how I met Victoria Beckham http://www.dianacloudlet.com/2015/02/victoria-beckham-zip-pouch-met-victoria-beckham.html

    Diana Cloudlet


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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