The first tornado warning of the season sent my sister and me into, well, something of a frenzy. My parents tried telling us the worst weather would veer away from our area, but that didn't prevent us from packing up about half the stuff in our house.
For the record, yes, this leads back to something writing-related. Doesn't it always?
In my scramble to gather everything I'd ever valued, I stumbled across my first *cough*story*cough*.
After flicking through the pages (there were around forty before I finally either quit or lost the notebook), if there was any part of me that wasn't looking for a rock to hide under, it was probably laughing uncontrollably.
It was awful.
Like, really awful. (I hate to admit this, but yeah, it was about a talking animal. Worse -- a mouse, with references to The Cricket in Times Square and everything.)
But hey, I was a third grader when I wrote it. So I guess my transgressions verged on forgivable?
I'd already found some of my other "stories" in tornado-roundup-mode, of course, any they were mostly pretty horrible. (The unoriginal story lines, nonexistent plot, cliches . . . I won't scare you with the specifics.)
The thing is, pulling out a piece of old writing is a lot like pulling out past yearbook pictures -- most of the time, you'll have forgotten just how bad it was. Typically, the older the writing (or picture), the worse you can expect it to be.
But I don't think it's all bad news. That just means your work will always improve, right? Even after you find your voice, even after your writing itself has stabilized into some form of consistency -- the writing still improves. Because what you write about, and how you execute it, will always be getting better and better.
So all this is why, though my younger sister gave me the mocking of my life after reading about that little mouse, I have only one thing to say to the third-grade Jenna:
Thank you. A lot. No, seriously.
Okay, so maybe two things --
Also, don't run into that column on the porch, because you'll mess up your knee and be confined to crutches for a few months, which we could both do without.
But you get the idea.