I've been writing literally as long as I can remember. Recently, I read through my first grade memory album, and in it was a note from my teacher about how she expects a copy of my first published book someday. My room has always been full of papers with scraps of stories on them, and my head has always been full of characters.
Yesterday, I was thinking about the phases I went through as a writer. My Robin Hood phase. My pirates phase. My romance novel phase (thank goodness that one was short-lived.) My Wodehouse phase, where everything I wrote was in Wodehouse's voice (I still slip into that from time to time.) My anti-writing phase, where I didn't want to be seen as "only a writer" (I still did an awful lot of writing in this phase, though this is when I stopped completing novels.) I went through a phase where all of my heroines had violet eyes, and a phase where all of my heroes were bounty-hunters (this one still crops up from time to time....) I wrote a million Mary-Sues, and immortalized my friends in some of my stories.
I wrote a lot of stupid crap.
I mean, really. Some of it was incredibly bad.
And I probably learned more during the period where I was cranking out crap than I did when I worked really hard on one piece to make it good.
My entire closet is full of writing that will never be published. And I think that's one of the things that makes me a writer. I explored new ideas. I wrote clichés. I plagiarized. And, through all this, I learned a lot about my voice and what I wanted to be writing. That's not to say I have it all figured out now. Hardly! I'm still exploring. Still getting to know myself as a person and a writer. But, looking back, I see how far I've come, and how much all this writing has helped me. It's set a great pattern for the future -- to continue writing, even if I have no confidence in my work. As they say, no writing is wasted writing.
Another great thing that happened while rereading my old work was that I realized I'm finally far enough away from some of my first work to find it cute instead of painful. I started doing the math and realized that I was only ten years old when I did most of this writing. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of writing that predates fifth grade, which is frustrating because I know I wrote a lot before then. However, fifth grade is when I completed my first novel. It's when I wrote a short story every week for my classmates to read. It's when I started developing the habits that have made me into the writer I am today. All that writing is silly, of course. It's the writing of a ten year old. But I'm no longer ashamed of that work; in fact, I'm proud of it.
In the spirit of that, I thought I would share with you today a story I wrote when I was ten years old. This has undergone no editing. Enjoy!
The Fairy Castle
Once, long ago, there was a man named Resheer. Resheer was known for his magic powers, and for the fact that his magic was dark.
Now I'm sure you know what it means for Resheer's magic to be dark but if not I shall tell you. There are two types of magic: dark and light. Now light magic is good, but dark magic is very, very bad. Resheer's magic was very, very, very bad because he made people sick, and often these people died.
What Resheer did not know was that the people that died went to a Fairy Palace where they ate good food, danced and did whatever they wished and were very happy. The people on Earth though, were not happy. They did not want their friends and family to go away so soon.
After awhile, Resheer caught his own illness and he thought he was going to die. He was very afraid, he didn't want to die because he didn't know about the Fairy Palace.
But he didn't die, for a fairy came to him one night.
This fairy's name was Rose Petal, with clothes made of her name, a light pinkish-red hair and eyes a dark green, like the stem of a rose. Resheer also noticed that she smelled of roses in a summer garden.
"You have been cruel," she said to him, gently but sternly, "But I can cure you if you promise me one thing."
"Anything," said Resheer, his black eyes lighting up with hope, "Just please, spare me."
"You must promise not to use your dark magic any more." Resheer agreed, but when his strength returned to him, he continued making people ill for when Resheer made a promise he did not make it to keep.
By and by Resheer got sick again, and he thought the fairy would come and heal him, but she did not and he did die.
But they would not let him into the fairy palace. The guard, an elf named PineWood, wearing dark green clothes and smelling of a pine forest told him he had not earned his way into the palace.
"The other people who come here earned their way in," said he, "They were good. You have been bad, and broken a fairy promise, so you must stay out!" and he slammed the golden gates in his face, leaving Resheer alone in the dark, damp and cold. Resheer shivered and pulled his black cape tighter around himself.
After a long time of sitting alone in the cold, he realized what he must do. He knocked on the golden gates, shivering.
"What do you want?" PineWood called out to him.
"Another chance!" Resheer cried back, "I want to go back to Earth and have another chance!"
PineWood hesitated, "Fine!" he called, "You may." And Resheer went back to Earth.
He was very kind to everyone, and only used his powers for good. At first people were weary around him, and were not kind in return and Resheer was ready to give up. But then he remembered the terrible cold, and the longing to get into the warmth and light and have fun. So he kept at it, and after a while people realized it wasn't a trick and, one by one, they accepted his friendship and were kind in return.
Occasionally Resheer would loose his temper and would almost use his dark magic, but would again remember the fairy palace, and didn't do anything too bad.
After a few, very happy years, Resheer got sick again. He thought the fairy would come to help him, after all, he hadn't done anything bad. But she didn't come.
Resheer was frightened, but then he remembered that he would get to go to the fairy palace, so he relaxed.
Resheer died, and he went up to the fairy palace. This time, when PineWood saw him he smiled, tipped his green hat, and opened the gates. Resheer walked through them with an extreme feeling of happiness and accomplishment.
And he lived happily in the Fairy Palace forever.