aqua fortis

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Catching Up

I can't believe I've been so neglectful as to not blog here for nearly a month. Not only that, I'm sorry to report that so far I have made zero progress on any of my New Year's resolutions as delineated in my previous post. Not that I've been lazy. Nope. Just exhausted, and busy.

Fortunately, I have high hopes that, from now on, I'll be not only blogging more but perhaps even reincorporating things like artwork and exercise and hobbies and (gasp!) FUN. Rob's art exhibit went up in the MJC campus gallery last week (see photo at right), which means he doesn't have to spend every waking non-teaching hour out in the studio, which means I get more help around the house again and get to see him more (although, time-management-wise, those might cancel each other out). And, after this week, I won't have such a conglomeration of book-related activities keeping me occupied.

One of those book-related activities was my first ever school visit yesterday, to Oakdale Junior High. I read parts of my book to two groups of kids in the library, talked a little about how I got published and the writing process, and answered questions. My favorite question might have been "what's a good first step to take if I want to be a writer?" And, I loved the girl who came up to me and said she's writing a novel, too. That's some ambition.

I was at least 15 or 16 before I tried to start writing a novel, and I certainly never finished any of those "early works" (well, all 2 of them). I think the first one was the ill-fated cyberpunk reinterpretation of The Nutcracker--entitled, of course, NetCracker. Or possibly it was the other untitled cyberthriller about the guy with the cyber-hand who is assigned to infiltrate a high-tech corporation, who meets and teams up with a teenage punk girl with a genius for gadgets and a penchant for running away from home. I even outlined most of that one in great detail, and wrote at least 30 or 40 pages. It starts with the rather cringe-worthy line "The sweat ran down Ian's body in rivulets as he staggered out of the room where he had just passed his physical endurance test." Eww.

Still, I suppose those are probably better than my other attempts at the time--the one-act play about a waiting room that was a metaphor for death; the SOOOOPER lame vampire-lust short story that nobody, I repeat NOBODY should ever read; or the one simply titled "MYSTERY" that seems to be a pseudo-Victorian tale set in Drury Lane, London and riddled with Dickensian stereotype characters like the former street waif Tommy and the unfortunately-named Jenny Robinthwaite. I might have been 13 or 14 when I wrote that one. It boasts such great lines as "Ask me not why" and "Sleep now, you scalawag" and "I've never seen a better fight in my life!"

Amusing as my early writings seem to me now, I wonder what would have happened if I'd had a chance to meet an author when I was younger, to ask questions about what it was like to be a writer and how to get there. Probably nothing, since I was pretty darn focused on being an artist, but still. Maybe I would have spent more time on it. Or, on the other hand, maybe I wouldn't have taken so many risks with my writing, tried so many odd (some might say ridiculous) ideas. I mean, there's nothing like education to make you suddenly wonder what you're doing wrong. So maybe it worked out for the best after all, eh?


tanita davis said...

Ask me not why for what the bell is tolling...eth... Heh. At least you were trying to write something INTERESTING. I'm still cringing at the detective series I wrote at 13, starring This Boy I Liked as my police captain.

I'd rather have written bad steampunk...

adrienne said...

I'm glad to hear your school visit went well. I am in front of audiences fairly regularly, but I think I'd need something strong to get me through sharing my own work in a school environment like that.

And OMG "NetCracker" is such an amazingly funny cringey wonderful title. I want it to be a book *and* a movie.

david elzey said...

i so wish i had the writing of my youth but i suspect i purged it as i periodically did with most creative output (paintings included) for the first 30 years or so of my life.

but i have to say... NetCracker, for some reason the first thing that popped into my head was you outlining that and then having different authors handle each chapter. i have no idea why a mash-up like that popped into my head, but there you go.

aquafortis said...

I'm sorry to report, guys, that NetCracker (like 99% of the poetry I wrote at the time) should never see the light of day. I promise. Although, if I find an amusing excerpt, I promise to post it here.

I probably should purge some of that stuff--I think I did purge some, or some has been lost in a box somewhere--but I have a sentimental attachment to what's left of it, even if most of it now makes me want to run screaming. What I like is that it reminds me of that feeling when I used to write purely for enjoyment, out of inspiration and inner drive. A valuable reminder!