Recently I was sorting through some old hardback books I loved as a child: a set that included classics such as The Call of the Wild, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Swiss Family Robinson. I had been telling my son about how to press flowers and wanted to show him some I’d pressed in those beloved books years ago. There, in the middle of Arabian Nights, were the flowers: unknown, unnamed wildflowers I picked 25 years ago during a family vacation to Montana. They were intact, mostly, if faded.
But along with those faded dried flowers, I found another memory of my early teens tucked away in the pages of that book in the form of a story I wrote back then. In fact, it may be the first thing I ever wrote. It didn’t have a title and was only a scene, not a true story. I’d like to say I was a writing prodigy as a 13-year old, but truth be told, it’s pretty terrible. Here’s a sample, typos and all (hey, I was writing on a typewriter):
“His white Swift ‘n’ Speedy courier van uniform was rumpled and dirty as he peered into the interior of the van to ascertain the damage. His eye caught the pakcing crate, ripped apart and obviously missing part oo its contents. His face turned at white as his rumpled shirt.”
Funnier still is the only edit I marked to this passage–inserting the word “bloodshot” before eye in the second sentence. (Because other than that, this passage is PERFECT!)
Reading this made me laugh, blush, and shake my head, but it also reminded me that the journey to writing mastery (or any other kind of mastery) is a long one. I’m in the middle of the journey, not the end, but I can see how far I’ve come. Hopefully in another 20 years (or less), I’ll be looking at what I’m writing now and reflecting on how much more I’ve grown as a writer. (That is, if my son ever leaves me alone long enough to let me write anything again, which is doubtful.)