Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The First Piece You Ever Wrote

"What got you started writing?" That's a common question for writers to receive. I've posted about how that happened with me here.
 But I came across a different, and possibly much more meaningful question. "What was you're first writing experience?"
 And remembering it explained a lot of things to me, that I hadn't made a connection between before.

  As I recall, my first "story" was when I was nine. When I gave it to Mom I didn't intend for her to read it out loud, but she must have thought it was something special; 'cause she did.
 (Um... maybe she thought it would be encouraging to me? Well...)
 My siblings laughed, and their laughter wasn't the "that's hilarious!" kind. More like... ridiculing. Even homeschoolers have to deal with a peer group that isn't always kind! ;-)
  Anyway, my two older sibs weren't impressed. At all. It kind of got a "Who do you think you are? Some writer or something?" reaction. Pretty dampening.
  Not that the story was stellar! I mean, I was nine. It was no literary marvel. But still...
 The event kept my nose in a book and my hands away from creating fiction for some time.  It wasn't until I wrote a particularly well-liked letter that I even considered I might have any talent with the words I loved very much. (As kids, we always gave our letters to someone older to check for spelling.) This one received some critical acclaim, which surprised and encouraged me.
  I thought; "Wow. Maybe there's something special about my writing after all." Which was a nice boost, and I applied myself to the art of writing letters well; until I was about thirteen, and got enough courage up to try fiction again.
 Mom also is a lover of poetry, and did encourage that, so I wrote some...
 But again... the sibs see it and you'll get scorned!
 Hide the poetry!
  IF you show it to Mom, make sure nobody else is around! :-)
  In my late teens, when I was actively seeking feedback on my writing, I would be palm-sweating nervous when I actually handed it over. (I desperately wanted to hear their reactions, but was in a cold sweat at the same time.) Even if it was only to Dad, who has a huge and undemanding appetite for the written word in all its forms. (And is possibly my surest, and blindest, fan. He loves everything I write... which makes me doubt his judgement! But I love him for it anyway!)
  To this day I get pretty nervous when I show my work to others. I've gotten better, and braver... but it's still there.

 What was your first writing experience? Did it make you scared of sharing, or did that come later? Tell me I'm not alone here! ;-)


Sarah Scheele said...

It's true that positive--or unencouraging--words have a huge impact on a writer. I rarely shared work when I was younger because I felt some members of my family didn't like my writing. My sister seems to have acquired this habit too--she hides things from ME!

I have one really great childhood memory, though. When I was about nine, I started a story about two kids who get lost in outer space. When I shared it with my dad, he liked the idea. Because of that, it was always one of my favorite stories--and now, after all these years, I'm finally finishing it!

Elizabeth K. said...

Yes! Family can be the scariest critics to a youngster! It's too bad, because a lot of time, (sibling wise) they're too young to know good from bad, either. ;-) Yes, encouraging parents are the BEST! They make such a huge difference.
I glad you're finally finishing that story! There are so many unfinished ones in my "mental drawer" that sometimes I think I'll never get to them... Some pretty good, too. :-) I think it's a small triumph when a writer can return and wrap up some of their "unfinished ones"!

Sarah Scheele said...

Family feedback is the most influential--especially criticism. At one time my dad didn't really like that I was a writer, which is why that one memory is so sweet to me. My mother encouraged me, but was very critical because she wanted me to be the best. I felt only a perfect book would gain their approval, so I discarded idea after idea. I've had to realize NO writer has ever been perfect--and now I'm finding those ideas again and realizing they weren't so bad! :D

Elizabeth K. said...

Absolutely! Family opinions are so important, especially as a youngster. I know what you're talking about! Trying to achieve perfection... when in reality there is no such thing as perfection. Everybody's tastes and viewpoints are guaranteed to be different.
I definitely think that has been the hardest thing to learn and really ingrain into acceptance, for me as a writer... I think I've finally got it! Now I try to write for me-myself; and if I can gain the approval of my sister, then I call it good! ;-)
That's one of the reasons that experts advice authors to "know your audience". Then you can concentrate on what they think and no one else!