Gotta be You

I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen and in junior high. I wrote it out in long hand on a lined tablet with yellow pages. It was a love story about grown up people, and a doctor named Rae, things I really knew nothing about. Yet, I felt compelled to write that particular story.

I can’t remember the plot, or even the title, although I do recall the opening when the good doctor is driving down a muddy dirt road in a rainstorm. Why? I have no idea. The rest is pretty fuzzy. Regrettably, I destroyed the story quite some time ago, embarrassed by my fledgling efforts. Looking back, I now wish I had kept it. You know, something to look back on. I mean I was just thirteen.

It might be fun to look back at now. But gone is gone, and nothing can bring it back.

Although, I’m not sure how the book ended, I do know it didn’t have a happy ending—girl did not end up with boy. There was no happy-ever-after. Don’t know why. I guess it just didn’t feel right.

I remember when I was working on this novel my father asked to read it.
He seemed amused that I was tackling something so ambitious as a novel. I felt a bit proud. My dad never got to see any of my published work as he left this world about five years before my first story was published. I stopped dreaming about him after I told him, in a dream, that I was a writer, something I’d always wished he’d been alive to know about.

My older sister also read my novel. She read it after it was completed. Needless to say she didn’t like the ending. She wanted a happy ever after.

So what did I do? I changed the ending. I went against what felt right for the story and changed the ending to reflect what my sister thought was right. I remember not wanting to do it. Yet change it I did.
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Funny, how we can bend under pressure, change who we are and what direction we are going in, just to please others. Today, I would not change the ending. Today, I would stick to my guns.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to make changes in our WIP.

Revision is NOT a dirty word, but before you make any changes to your story you should ask yourself,” Why?” Is it just to appease others or will your story benefit from these changes? A writer needs to write their story, not the story they think someone else want them to write. Writing our own story adds authenticity to our work. Remember, you are the only one who can write that particular story in that way. When changes are needed, make these changes for the right reason. Be yourself. Write your story, not someone else’s.

That is all…

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14 Comments

  1. Well done Laura, writing a novel at 13! At that age I started a lot of things but I didn’t have the attention span or the stamina to finish them.

    I’m also a fan of a non-happy ending, but it’s hard to write one that is still a satisfying conclusion to your story.

    Reply
    • I’d be interested in seeing now if there actually was a plot, but there’s not much I can do to change things now. While I do often like happy endings not ll stories need one, nor should they have one.

      Reply
  2. Excellent point, Laura. I think new writers too often succumb to this from the sheer lack of confidence and experience. I hope once they learn to trust their instincts they become less likely to change what probably works. Thankfully, I’m learning to accept my own advice.

    Happy Saturday.

    Reply
    • Happy Saturday to you, Joylene. Following own own instincts is good advice if someone suggests a change that seems right we usually know it right away.

      Reply
  3. fivecats

     /  September 10, 2011

    That’s an early start. At 13, it was trying to master on how to diagram (correctly) a sentence for English class. The teacher wasn’t interested in encouraging creative effort, which I thought made the class very boring.

    Too bad you didn’t keep that first effort. I liken that to the first dollar you earn in your chosen profession. In my case, that was check. (I have its photocopy somewhere in my file cabinet.)

    Have a good weekend.

    Reply
    • Those teachers who encouraged our creativity as we were growing up a real gems. I hope they realize how important they are to would be writers.

      I really would like to look back at my first novel. I was well into adulthood when I destroyed it and should have known better.

      Reply
  4. I think it’s great to look back on things we’ve written twenty or thirty years ago. It shows us how much we’ve grown. It’s like comparing our class pictures in grade 2 — we all have missing front teeth and a mix of baby and adult teeth — and our graduation photo.

    Sticking to your guns and keeping your story YOUR story is great advice. Sometimes it’s tough to do. That’s where being stubborn is an asset.

    Reply
    • Being stubborn can sometimes be an asset although not always. Sometimes the changes we make are very necessary to the story. It takes time and confidence in our work to know when change is necessary.

      Reply
  5. I wish I’d had teachers who encouraged creative writing in school. It seems it was all so mechanical.

    Reply
  6. So true. Revision actually turned out to be an enlightening experience. I learned so much about writing, myself, and other writers too.

    I remember writing a really large piece with a friend of mine when I was 13. Who knows what happened to it and I barely remember the plot. But I do remember rewriting parts of it over and over again to get it right. Its funny how writers have always been writers – we’ve always known from the start that we are storytellers. :-)

    Reply
    • So even at 13 you realized that stories need not only to be written, but rewritten. Interesting.
      I’ve only met a few people who didn’t realize they were writers until they were well into their adult years. Most of us do recognize the it early on.

      Reply
  7. Wonderful post, and to write a novel so young! Kudos. You are right, of course, we must write what is in our hearts and minds. If we try to write for someone else it cannot be right, because we are not them.
    Writing is giving a piece of yourself, and you can only do that with what is yours to give.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much and welcome to my blog. I suppose I didn’t think at the time it was much of an achievement, but then we often don’t notice those things about ourselves. So very true, each story we write has a bit of ourselves in it.

      Reply

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