Friday, August 16, 2013

Pete the Pterodactyl

Most of us have done it. You look back at something that you've written, and those carefully crafted words, the ones you spun like honey (right? Don't you spin honey? Or something...?) to create beautiful prose and realize...

It's bad. Like, really, really bad.

Have you been there?

I'm thinking of this because today I was at my parents house and I noticed the "All About Me" book I'd written when I was six and pulled down a book of creative writing that had been next to it and my husband, parents, and I spent the next half hour laughing hysterically at me. First of all, I can't spell. Apparently I never could, as my favorite pets were my dog and my "hapster." There were fascinating stories in this book, like the one about coming to Georgia with James Oglethorpe in 1733 to settle the colony (I'm guessing it was a school assignment...? I hope....?), or the one about Pete the Pterodactyl, who was apparently my pet and personal alarm clock in one story.

Yeah. *ahem* About that.

So looking back on those tonight, I was glad to see that I've improved, at least a little, as a writer over the last twenty years or so.

I've looked back at manuscripts and felt the same way, that I'd improved so much since I'd written those. Some of them are okay, they just need polishing. And some of them are just...bad.

I doubt any of yours are as bad as mine. =) But probably at some point you've looked at something you've written and realized it wasn't quite as perfect as you thought it was.

But that's okay. For three reasons.

1. You wrote something. You get credit for that, because you're doing something you love and working to make a dream a reality. Even in your "early" days as a writer, that counts.

2. It's nice to see how far you've come. It can be encouraging.

3. As I realized tonight--it can be good confirmation. You can look back at something you've written and see the spelling errors, the grammar mistakes, the gaping holes in your plotline (like, what did Pete the Pterodactyl eat in my story...?) and still see that you had, even then, some small glimmer of talent at writing. Add that in to the effort you're putting in to learning about things like craft, and there's hope for all of us that we'll become "real" writers one day. However we're defining that. ;) Personally, I think we're all "real" writers now...

So don't be afraid when you come across old printed stories you've written, files on your computer where the characters are so stereotypical that it makes you snicker, because there are things you can learn from them. Ways they could encourage you. I really think every. single. word. we write matters. Are all of them meant to be published? No. Some of them are meant just for us. Look back and see what some of yours can teach you.

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