then and now

Found several old pieces of writing yesterday, spanning from my third grade Autobiography - entitled the banal My Life ; (the pix of my brothers in the 70s were HILARIOUS! And good old Skipper-doggle. What a cutie he was.) to the complete 240 page novel I wrote the summer I turned thirteen (pretty much The Outsiders with the names of the characters changed). There was even a laugh-out-loud comic that I drew that I got a D- on. I don't know why. It was obvious I had a blast doing it. I think it was golden!

Didn't write so much in high school. Too busy with the boyfriend, I suppose, my teenage angst, and my hard-drinking, druggie friends. Yeah, riiight. Lots of good artfrom that era though; pastels and pencil drawings. Boy, no wonder they thought I had a future in it. Too bad I just never got any better.

Then I hit the college years; lots of red ink, but also lots of encouraging comments. One piece I think I could actually rework into something I could sell now. Thought it was rather funny that I put real sincerity and themes and crap into my work back then. I spit out some really meaningful drivel. Since it was typed on the Smith-Corona the spelling and gramatical errors are glaring, even with the erasable ribbon. (I obviously gave up underlying significance and themes with the advance of maturity. Fuck themes. Now I mostly like to write about attractive guys blowing stuff up and driving away in extradinarily expensive cars.)

I could pinpoint the date that I quit writing, not that I wasn't still putting words down on paper; but it started sucking something awful. Fall of my sophomore year, about the time the Man (then the Boy) got sick and almost died. (No worries, he's been fine lo these many years). My prof's disappointment, relayed through his scrawled comments, is palpable even today. Hopefully, Dr. G, I'll make you proud real soon.

I wonder about those other folks in those grad creative writing classes. I was a mere freshman/sophomore, and I kept us from meeting in bars since I wasn't of age... oh yeah, they all were real supportive of my work... The thing I recall best from my classmates' work is a scene about a couple having sex in the shower and the chick had a pimply back. Nice. I thought it was crap (of course I only smiled politely, seen-and-not-heard is the rule for freshmen in grad classes). Fortunately, my classmates agreed and they were rather harsh about it. Didn't exactly make the author cry, but he got rather sullen, as I recall.

Ok, I might be exaggerating about the entirety of my latest work consisting of cute boys blowing stuff up (well, it's not too far off, actually) but its a hell of a lot more fun to write. I get a lot of questions about how I dream it all up. Well, it goes something like this:

First draft: I get to find out what happens.
First-tenth revisions: I get to find out why.

I write a rough draft straight out as fast as I can and it goes through at least two revisions before anyone else gets to read it.

That's it in a nutshell. That and showing up every day. The blog only counts half-way, but I've done about 4 pages on the novel today. I've got more to go, but I'll get to it. I'm rather difficult to live with if I don't write something just about every day. I write even if it's crap. Even if I'm tired. Even if I go in not knowing what I am going to write, I still experience a compulsion to put some words down.

To which many folks will say hopefully, "Maybe someday it will pay off for you."

Yeah. Well, to my mind the real joy is in the process of the thing. Not that I don't enjoy being read, because I really, really do. But it's those moments when I sit back, two hours gone, just gone, and I re-read what I've just written and I think, "Wow."

That's the stuff. Like that stupid comic I drew. It's golden.

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