In this video, YA author John Green talks about the stories he wrote when he was in high school–which, of course, made me think of my own high school attempts at fiction.
Like John says about his early work, none of mine was good. Most of it was knock-off versions of what I was reading or watching at the time. A few highlights from the past fictional files:
- a girl who likes art and has run-ins with the popular crowd
- a coven of high school witches
- a Robin Hood-esque girl hero in a vague fantasy world (plus half a sequel)
- a series of linked short stories about a group of friends; everyone took walks and thought about stuff but never did anything
Pretty sure none of this will ever see the light of day. (Actually, not sure if I could track most of this down; it might be in my parents’ basement or it might have gotten tossed when they were tossing a lot of stuff from aforementioned basement.) But I am so, so glad I wrote these horrific stories. After each one, I’d learned more about writing and was excited to move onto the next project. I got to try different genres and styles without the pressure of having to show these stories to anyone in particular.
Also, they primed me for taking writing seriously as an adult. Working on my thesis novel wasn’t so bad because I knew I’d written “novels” before and would eventually get to the end through a lot of hard work and perseverance. I know that sometimes projects don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the general idea or characters tucked away for future projects.
My theory: writing is never a waste. Maybe it won’t pay off like you think it will (somehow that girl hero never landed me on the Today Show like I imagined), but it always teaches you something. And at the very least, maybe you can tell your legion of fans about it via Youtube video.