Terrible Tips Tuesday: An Homage to the Drawer
If you’ve been writing for a while and haven’t published everything, then you’ve probably got a few stories you’ve never really shown anyone tucked away somewhere. In the old days that would usually be in the bottom of a drawer. Of course in modern times it’s more likely on a disk or hard drive.
Since I’ve been writing stories since 7th grade and never really published anything, I have a whole lot of them I’ve never really shown anyone. I would have shown them to anyone who asked, but no one was ever really interested.
So my “drawer” is pretty fully. It was the summer of 2007 when I decided to finally empty the drawer out online. At the time I was burned out from writing and decided to go on hiatus for what turned out to be about four months, though it was nearly a year before I did anything serious again.
The thought hit me as I was driving home from my vacation that I had all of this stuff no one had ever seen. If I got flattened by a semi on the way back, no one would ever see it, except for what little I still had on hard copies. All those years of work–even if they weren’t great–and they would just be gone forever.
That’s why I created what came to be known as the Rogue Mutt Archives. The process began what I’ve done for most every story since then–see previous entry–in loading the stories onto a blog. I used Blogger for all of that; was WordPress even around in 2007? Part of the reason to use a Blogger blog instead of a website was that I wanted the thing to have some longevity. If I bought web space, what would happen if I got hit by a bus the next day? I’d stop paying for the site and eventually it would disappear. There are other places that offer free space, but many of those have dried up, like AOL and Yahoo! Geocities. Plus those free ones usually have annoying ads and such.
Additionally, from experience I know that making a website is a lot more work. With a blog you just pick a template, customize the headers and stuff, and get busy. Much easier than building a website from scratch.
I couldn’t get everything I’ve ever written on there. Everything from before high school was written on old Apple II computers and unless I went on EBay or a museum I probably couldn’t find an Apple II and even if I did I couldn’t get it to load anything to the Internet, though probably a real computer geek could find a way.
The earliest story on there is A Light From the Darkness from 1994. Like most of my work it’s basically a soap opera, kind of a “West Side Story” without the singing and dancing. A girl from the streets joins some kind of gang, rises up the ladder, but then falls in love with a journalist and everything falls apart. The concept is actually a lot better than the story itself. This is actually the second (at least) draft of it. I liked the concept in the first draft, where I started the scene in the present with our “hero” in prison and then the second half of the chapter would go back to her gang days. But it was a little confusing, so this draft I dug up is more straight-ahead.
If I could ever stand really going back and reviewing it, I could probably sum up what progress (or lack thereof) I’ve made since then. I could probably pick up the bad habits I had–and still have–and what I’ve done better.
But that wasn’t really the point of the site. The point was kind of like why Egyptian pharaohs had pyramids built, as a way to tell the world, “I was here and this was what I did!” So at that point, when I was burying my writing career, it was my way of erecting a monument to say, “I was here and this was what I did!” Because really, why leave all those years of dedication buried in a drawer somewhere?
Most people do that because they’re embarrassed, but I’m not. I never said I was the Mozart of writing, some kind of child prodigy, though my English teachers in middle school tried to make me think I was. If you’ve been on any writing critique group site, you’ll know that it’s a learning process. Except for celebrity “writers,” most people build up some stuff in a drawer as they learn how to craft stories. I’m sure even Nabokov or Philip Roth or John Irving had a drawer somewhere before they were ready for greatness.
So if anyone ever makes fun of you for something you wrote years ago, just tell them it’s all part of the process. Or you can just point them to my Archives to look at all the cringe-worthy stuff in my drawer.
That is all.
Thursday (since it’s the last day before the holidays) will be the first-ever Writing Year in Review.