I had read a lot of books by the time I was 7 years old, and I was churning with my own ideas (though not very good ones), and I wanted to write books that looked exactly like the ones I had been reading. At first, I didn’t know how to make paragraphs, so I just had massive blocks of text that went on for ages, but eventually, thanks to an advanced writers’ class in middle school, I was shown how.
But, way back then, I just made cover pages, wrote cool little phrases that really have nothing to do with the story, chose interesting fonts, made sure my spelling and grammar were immaculate, wrote blurbs, the whole shebang. I almost never finished anything, and tons of documents are probably still hidden in the hard drive of our old computer, waiting to be unearthed, ready to be released into the world and propagate endless mortification for me. After a while, I began striving for novellas and short stories rather than full novels; because they were too long and I didn’t know I could use a bigger font, write more detail, utilize paragraphs, or figure out double-space.
I started a work called “Call of the Seals” which was about selkies, one of my childhood obsessions (for a brief period of time). If you don’t know what a selkie is, it’s essentially a were-seal of Irish folklore. They’re magical sea-maidens that become seals. Of course, there are different versions of the story–it’s a folktale–some of them say that they had to wear sealskin coats, one of them that I heard did not mention sealskin coats. It was terribly written, and I think I would probably cry if I were to reread what I put down those years ago.
There was one time I was going to see an old friend (I had switched schools for the third time in my life) and I wrote an excessively bad picture book for her called “The Dragon-like Dinosaur”. I illustrated it and I remember we didn’t have white printer paper, so I used blue. I am pretty sure if I had managed to keep it, it would be hideous and awkward to me now. Unfortunately (or maybe not), I had left it on a table at school, gotten up to do something briefly, and returned to find it missing. Panicked, I rushed around, asking people if they had seen it. Everybody claimed (or feigned) ignorance. Eventually, I found it in a garbage can, crumpled, torn, and buried under huge chunks of half-consumed pizza.
Furious, I realized that all my hard work (I didn’t really know how to work a stapler and it took a good quantity of effort) was all for naught.
As I grew older, I realized that other people didn’t emulate the work of published authors, and neglected to ameliorate mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. They didn’t meticulously write page numbers, they didn’t try to be professional. Writing was not everyone’s passion, and even those who did like it didn’t try as hard as I did. Oftentimes I encountered fan fictions as opposed to original ideas. I’m not criticizing fan-fics, I’ve done my fair share in order to express my own ideas in an environment I liked, but I only shared one, and I was really embarrassed about it because I didn’t think it was legal, and I didn’t want other people to know that I had read the book and thought that I was obsessed with it.
Writing is hard, sometimes. It feels like all the ideas are taken. Sometimes you want to experiment. Sometimes you don’t know how good you actually are. I’ve been doing it from a pretty young age, and I’m still not particularly good. I always have my struggles, I always have moments of boredom, I always have sudden sparks of inspiration, and I always have a feeling of unease. People have expectations, when you write. I don’t always do it regularly, I have my own interests, I couldn’t make it into a career, and people make assumptions and demands based on who they think I am. That’s true with any aspect of my identity.
But while I can’t quantify writing and the results of doing it, I can say that there’s a significantly good feeling when you have a good idea, and an even better one when you finish it.