Project x Project: How Did This Start? Moments in a Writing Life (NaNo Day 5)

Friday, November 5, 2010

I have had a lot of embarrassing moments in my writing career.
Looking back on it now, it seems that my childhood addiction was paper. I have half-finished or quarter-finished or even one-page-out-of-150 finished journals lying about my house, ones that have not been cracked open for years (fortunately, nowadays I am re-using that paper for my class notes).
As a pre-teen and teenager, I wrote depressing poetry that was cringe-worthy - my journals were full of unrequited love notes (as I had many a great crushes in my youth) and poems that expressed my angst and depression in stranger language than I thought possible to construct.
I felt unafraid in the 6th grade to print out my 100+ page unedited novel, put it in a binder, and present it to my middle school English teacher for editing. He never got it back to me, and I was too shy to ask for it back. That was also a year that I started writing query letters to editors about whether they would take that meager bit of work.
I submitted poems to several contests, some of which were for children much younger than me, and ended up feeling embarrassed and even more misunderstood.
And then there were the diaries...

When I list these anecdotes out, I still cringe and giggle nervously. But I am also weirdly thankful that they happened. Because I now feel like a much more mature writer than I was when I started. In between those silly flights of fancy, I also got out there to take classes at Richard Hugo House, read my work at poetry slams, and feel strong in starting (and sometimes finishing) a long piece. I got to experience the full gamut of emotions - from apathy to zeal - of writing.
And now, as I hurriedly try to get back on word count for my NaNo novel, I realize that becoming a writer is something akin to climbing a craggy dragon's back while it's still trying to buck you off. A laughable and enormous task, but one that can only be taken one scale at a time.
I leave you with a thought proposed to me by my African American literature professor: whatever you write now will eventually be published as your juvenalia, your early works before you penned the Nobel prize winner.

7,003 words

Read more about my NaNoWriMo attempts and successes.