Posted by: oneyearbook | February 21, 2009

Another kick at the can

My first attempt at writing a novel – when I was about 11 years old – involved malevolent forest and ocean spirits attacking two young siblings who had made the mistake of disliking their new home. I worked on it during spelling class in Grade 7, which I was excused from due to my supernatural ability in the subject. All I remember of it now was that the young boy and his sister were stuck on a rocky islet, cut off from the mainland by the rising tide, during a wild storm. It didn’t get finished.

A brief flirtation with the fantasy epic genre followed; I was more interested in creating unpronounceable names (Mladena and Ahjhorj, for example) for imaginary lands and oceans, and drawing corresponding maps, than I was with actually writing. It didn’t get finished; neither did the historical time-travel family revenge drama that I began next, as I was distracted by some genealogy software that allowed me to map out the roots of the family I was writing about.

At fifteen I took a serious kick at the idea of writing a book and got 30 pages into a real masterpiece in which, deciding to get as far as possible from the old adage of ‘write what you know,’ I, an agnostic English-speaking teenager from BC, wrote about infidelity in a French Catholic family in Quebec. Just to pile on, in the first five pages the main character is paralyzed in a fall down his home staircase. For nostalgic reasons, I still have the manuscript. It’s not terrible; but it’s definitely not finished.

I must have given up for a bit, because the next attempt I made was in third-year university, in my Intro to Fiction class; I’ve never been much for short stories, so I chose to bring in a ‘novel excerpt’ for my second submission. This one threw together a journalist in 1970s Las Vegas, a couple who believe the earth is flat, and an astronaut injured prior to heading off for the moon. Page count, when the class finished? 30. I’d written short stories for the rest of the term instead.

So you can look at it one of two ways: either I have a pathological inability to finish the novels I start, or (and this is my choice) I have simply been practicing, honing my skills, in preparation for my current project.

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