I’ve had a lot of firsts in my writing career: the first poem I wrote (on daffodils), the first book I started to write (it was supposed to be a Regency romance), the first serial I wrote (portal fantasy), the first short story I submitted (cliché-ridden SF), the first short story I sold (sword and sorcery with an assassin as the protagonist), the first novella I completed (Farwalker), the first book in a series (Christmas Tree Farm Murders), and so on.
There are no surviving copies of that first attempt at a book, which is just as well. I was in middle school, and my entire knowledge of the Regency period was based on what I’d read in Georgette Heyer’s novels. (Truthfully, it’s not that much better now.) The heroine had been orphaned because someone murdered her parents (lots of choppy fragments: “The knife. The bloody knife. The knife that killed her parents and sent her to live with her aunt and uncle.”) The romance interest was her cousin — I’m presuming they weren’t first cousins, though I don’t think I’d thought about it at the time. Her aunt’s quirk was that every time she didn’t get instant obedience, she added another middle name to the character . . . which could have been a great tactic for NaNo, come to think of it. I was just decades too early on that. I think she was eventually supposed to trap her parents’ killer (very Nancy Drew!), but I didn’t get that far with the book.
I think I might have one or two bits of the first serial. We had to write something in our journals in English class (eleventh grade). The teacher didn’t care what we wrote, just as long as we sat there and wrote during one class a week. So I wrote a fantasy where I followed an owl through the fog into a magical world where my counterpart had been killed. (It’s possible I’d been reading Piers Anthony’s Blue Adept series around this time and was writing under the influence.) It turned out that I was magic and could change into an animal (an owl, of course), and I had ties to a color (orange? or maybe yellow-orange? odd choices for me, either way). Also, my friends were the same way. I remember working hard because I wanted us somehow to correspond to the nine muses, so I was picking nine of my friends to write into the story, each of whom also had an animal self and a color. Oh, and a gem. There were ties to other mythology, too — I remember that Loki was important, and there was something significant about the Norse-Greek cross-over. I even created a new time system and started work on a language. I’d almost completely forgotten about it until a friend gave me a lovely orange ceramic owl (filled with chocolate!) last October. I’ll never do anything with this story, but even then, making connections and blending ideas from many different backgrounds were part of my writerly make-up.
There will be more first going forward: my first science-fiction novel, my first fantasy series, my first middle-grade book, my first experience at audio . . . Should be lots of fun! And someday, I’ll probably look back on those firsts as well and smile and see how they’ve shaped me as a writer.
Today’s post was inspired by the topic “First Stories”– February’s topic and theme in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. This post should have gone up on Saturday, and I do apologize for the tardiness. Be sure to check out the next posts in the series, by Sandra Barret and D. M. Bonanno.
If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on first stories, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!