Recently a friend introduced me to an amazing podcast called Mortified. It features adults reading the things they wrote as kids before a live audience. It’s incredibly funny, mostly because it reminds me of all the embarrassing things I used to say and do. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them all down in a diary like a normal kid. Instead, I did things like kept a journal full of drawings of alien species I made up. If I did write diary entries, they were written from the perspective of a fictional character in a game or a TV show that I was into at the time. For instance, for several weeks, I once kept a journal as a character from Pokemon.
I was a weird kid, folks.
And so, inspired by Mortified, I’ve decided to look up some of my old embarrassing writings and share them on this blog. Sadly I could not locate my Pokemon journal, so you’ll have to make do with some of my other materials. Is this a shameless attempt to drive up traffic on my blog? Possibly. But it ought to be entertaining nonetheless.
Today, I’m featuring passages from the very first novel I wrote as a 15 year-old. I never finished it…I got about a third of the way through it before realizing it had no plot. Since that’s a rather essential element of a novel, I scrapped it. But today, nearly 15 years later, I pulled it back out again and re-read it. And now I’d like to share with you some of the most ridiculous lines that I found.
1. “‘Recently…I discovered a coded message addressed to a stranger that was accidentally transferred to this computer.'”
The context here is that the coded message starts the characters off on a perilous journey. It just happens to have the secret information they’ve been looking for that will save their world from an evil tyrant. And, of course, this ragtag group of kids knows exactly how to decipher it.
Hmm. That’s mighty convenient, isn’t it? I mean, that happens all the time, right?
This, apparently, is how I decided to solve the problem of circumventing an evil dictator’s mass monitoring of technological systems. Through an accidental encrypted message that just happened to be sent to the computer of kids who must have been, by all accounts, geniuses.
2. “‘We heard your cries for help and saw your desperate situation, so we came to rescue you.'”
Ah yes. Well, why wouldn’t something like that happen in a world controlled by an evil tyrant? And when it did happen, why shouldn’t the rescuer explicitly declare their own heroism?
3. “I couldn’t be sure, but through the darkness, I thought I saw a tear drip down his cheek and fall endlessly to the ground in broken despair.”
Probably best to keep to one metaphor per line. Otherwise it confuses folks…and makes for an awfully long run on sentence.
4. “All at once Chaquelo, Dak, Mason, Maneila, and Kaneya were screaming…”
First of all, let’s admire the pure awesomeness of the names I chose for my characters. I know they look like random syllables strung together, but I actually put a lot of thought into them.
Yep, I was pretty pleased with myself about those names.
Now, about my decision to list every single one of them in a single phrase rather than saying “my friends” or “the others” or something to that effect…yeah, I’ve got no explanation for that.
5. “‘It’s obvious that…friendship is what has brought you safely this far and will keep you together in the face of future dangers.'”
Hey guys…are you wondering what my book is about? Are my subtle hints too difficult for you to grasp? Do not despair. I have a solution: inserting it directly into an unrelated conversation between key characters. And that definitely won’t make it sound cheesy or trite at all.
6. “Was teamwork something that should come automatically, or did we have to work toward it? But then, wouldn’t we have to work toward it by using teamwork? I was confused.”
We all are. By these words. And whatever point I was actually trying to make here.
There are plenty of other embarrassing examples I could include…like the fact that my villain is named Asteb, which is really just the word “beast” with the letters rearranged (because NO ONE would ever figure that out on their own, right?)…and the ultra religious overtones throughout (don’t judge me too harshly, though…I was really into the Left Behind books at that time, so, you know…). But I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I found when I reread my first partial novel. The pacing and flow of the dialogue wasn’t half-bad, and even though I had a lot of main characters, I took time to give each of them their own personalities. And they were diverse, too: about half were female, two were Latino, one was African-American, and one had a physical disability. Even then, representation was an important part of how I wanted to define myself as an author.
As I look back on my 15 year-old writer self, I can think of a lot of things that I could have done better. But my biggest regret, in all honesty, is that I never finished the thing. It would have been hard, especially considering my huge plot holes and my lack of direction–but it would have taught me a lot about just how much work goes into writing a novel.
In any case, I’ll be sifting through my other remnants of childhood written works over the next few weeks and posting my favorites. So stay tuned, folks. It’s gonna be fun.
And if I run across that Pokemon journal, I will definitely let you know.