So, over the next few days I’m going to talk about how I got to where I am. I’ll get to agents and editors and all that, but first I want to take you back to the beginning, because it is hysterically bad, in the way things NEED to be bad. It’s the kind of hysterically bad that comes from TRYING and FAILING spectacularly a few times.
I started writing when I was 15 or so.
I wrote a pretty awful short story about two brother angels, one good, in charge of life, and one bad, in charge of death, and the bad one felt villainized so he lashed out, so the good one locked the bad one away, but then the bad one staged a hostile takeover of the silver city where both brothers had ruled, and he killed the good angel, but the bad one couldn’t live without the good one and so everything fell apart. If you want to actually READ some of the heinousness that was the first ever attempt at fiction, GO HERE
Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, I *tried* to write a HORRIBLE OVER-WROUGHT METAPHORICAL FANTASY. There was this principle in the world I created called “The forest and the meadow theory” and it basically meant that the worlds of magic and mundane couldn’t overlap and still retain their identity, in the same way that a forest is no longer a forest if it merges with the meadow, and a meadow is no longer a meadow if it merges with the forest. I clearly wanted to be taken seriously at 17. THANKFULLY, that project sits unfinished somewhere, and will serve as a LESSON. The sad thing is that tiny bits and pieces of it were half decent, but alas.
Mostly, I wrote pretty awful poetry. I even had a Xanga, and you can go scope out some of my teenage angst RIGHT HERE. The farther you go back, oh the worse it gets.
Later, I went through a period of writing children’s origin story poems, in rhyme. Originally I was going to illustrate them for my college thesis.
reflecting up against the sky
as night beams bathe
in ocean waves
and all the stars
In the dark my shadow grows,
No longer branching from my toes
But spreading out from every part
No end but every inch a start,
And in the vast and wondrous night
My shadow plays the part of light
Filling every crease and crack,
Unrestrained, abundant black,
Or plays the shadow to the sky,
Whose height and breadth cast long and wide
A silhouette across the land,
And what was once my shadowed hand
Is now the blanket on the sea
Where blue and red and green
Are fast asleep in shades of gray
Until my shadow in the day is mine again
Pushing up against my skin
To linger in my company
And wait until no one can see
Or no one tries, for in the eve
We assume all shadows take their leave.
Night is but a shadow grown.
Before anything else,
The trees and the plains,
Before the valleys and mountains,
The draught and the rains
Before you and I had forms and minds,
And life grew and became,
Then the Sea was of the Sky,
Both one, and the same.
On the ceiling overhead,
Laced in whites and blues
The two forms, as fingers, intertwined
And from each other grew.
The Sea and Sky both swelled in size,
The world began to shift
Until at last the weight surpassed
What Air itself could lift.
And then a Storm was bred and born
That severed every strand
Held Sky at bay, thrust Sea away
In heavy drops to land
And filled the world with water
To the brimming line between
And thus was the Horizon,
The unforgiving seam.
And when Sky looks longing down to Sea
Across the sun-filled moat
The Storm must come and shed the rain
To keep the Sky afloat.
There’s a valley that sits and stretches and yawns
Between the mountains of dusk and the mountains of dawn
Before a forest, thick with moss and with shade
Where canopies cover and smooth paths have been laid
The day dissolves and here all that remains
Are the field and forest and its wondrous games
A stream of fog in the meadow slips silently in
Like covers drawn cozy and up to your chin
And the mountains all fade into curtains of mist
And the sky above shimmers, a thousand times kissed
It glitters and flitters and flutters and smiles
Glowing and going for miles and miles.
Enter these woods at peace and at ease
Magic worlds wait among the canopied trees
Fear not this new place, its shadows don’t bite
They comfort as pillows in the soft twilight
So find your way in the fog to the silvery seam
Between the valley of rest and the forest of dream
And should you be wary of the waning daylight
Remember, dreams are born in the canopied night.
HOWEVER, writing a lot of bad poetry eventually led to some better poetry, which then led to a sense of rhythm and syllable structure that I still use in my fiction.
And in an interesting twist, one of my children’s poems became part of my first finished book.
Up next, PART TWO: And then came THE SHADOW MILE.