Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Even More Embarrassing Childhood Writing

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and often authors try to emulate their favourite authors in their own work. I am no different; since I was a wee little writer I have attempted to write like my favourite authors, both intentionally and completely obliviously. Here are some things I wrote, inspired by authors I've loved. Whether my writing is a fitting tribute to the authors I've admired is up to you to decide.

2008, age 12


All I remember about The Gravesavers by Sheree Fitch is that it was sad and tragic, set on the east coast, and the main character was named after a spice. I thought this was the pinnacle of good writing, so I decided to try my hand at writing a tragic story also with characters named after spices. It was about two sisters named Pepper and Cinnamon whose parents both died, and I called it Allspice. I set it on the coast (that I had never been to), and Cinnamon's nickname was exactly the same as the main character of The Gravesavers. (All the other members of their family were also named after spices.) An excerpt of the first draft of Allspice:

I laughed to myself. I could certainly ace this home economics quiz! It was all about spices. I read the next question.

5. List 5 Spices.

Easy, I thought. I ran through the list of my family member's names.

What would you rather read? An epic about spices-disguised-as-people that I wrote when I was 12, or a lovely story by one of the best Canadian children's authors?

2009, age 14



One of the series that I grew up reading was the inspirational Christian Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. I still have every single book in the series on my bookshelf, I am not ashamed to say. Those books comforted me like no other books could, so naturally I had to write a series about the adventures of a cute college friend group just like Christy's. The main character's name was Sadie. TOTALLY DIFFERENT. An excerpt: 

19-year-old Sadie Cummings laughed to herself. She couldn't believe after all these years, she still got lost in her daydreams. It was one thing when she was twelve, walking home from school, but now? When she was finished school, and walking to her part-time job in between classes at the University and in between all that going home to feed her cute black kitten, Da Capo? She laughed to herself again, as she was walking up the sidewalk to the bookstore where she worked called Marigold's. After second thought, yes, she could believe she still conjured up daydreams in her waking moments as if she was twelve. After all, she was a writer and she needed all the imagination she could get.

This isn't bad, but the actual beginning was an entire two paragraphs describing how cold Sadie's legs were. E.g., Her legs felt like ice. No, they were beyond feeling like ice- they were ice. She could imagine them- a clear, cool, smooth blue that would shatter and crack into pieces painfully if she fell.  And it doesn't stop there.

2009, age 14



Of Two Minds by Perry Nodelman and Carol Matas was one of my favourite fantasy books as a young teen (and honestly, it stands the test of time, still amazing). It featured a funny, flawed, kick-ass female princess character that could create real things from her imagination, and a wimpy, scared boy that could read minds. The two characters hated each other and then fell in love. I LOVED it, so I took the character types, their relationship, and the fantasy setting, and wrote a trilogy. An excerpt:

"Gwen!" Tamlin called, jogging clumsily to catch up, "Gwen! Where are you going?"

"Why should it be any of your business?" Gwen responded harshly, not even turning her head to give so much as a glance in Tamlin's direction. Gwen reached to her long black mane and tied it in a hasty braid. 

"Well, I got the necklace for you, and... I left home and-" Tamlin continued, stumbling on each reason he gave.

Gwen sighed, and finished off her braid, "Why do you want to come with me anyway? It's dangerous, life-threatening, anything and everything. Nothing a farm boy would expect."

"I'm not a farm boy!" Tamlin argued, "and I want to come with you... truthfully I have nothing better to do and I have no idea what I'm doing all on my own and frankly" -Tamlin gasped for air- "You seem like you have an idea."

"I have no intention of babysitting for some wandering, childish towns-folk," Gwen stated flatly.

"I'm eighteen," Tamlin hissed through clenched teeth, "and besides, I can survive just fine on my own." 

Why yes, they do get married in the second book. 

2017, age 23

Despite how short I've fallen when trying to write books that come even close to being as brilliant as the ones written by my favourite authors, I continue to try to do it. Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors, largely because of the focus in her books on characters, and the intense friendship and family dynamics between them. In the past couple of years I've attempted to write some contemporary stories inspired by her themes and my own life experience, about friends, family and the regular struggles of everyday life. An excerpt:


           “Grandma, isn’t this just supposed to be a barbecue?”

            Grandma has an entire, whole turkey in her oven. She’s also making roast vegetables, and she’s got the ingredients set out neatly on her counter for a pineapple upside down cake.

            “All you really need are a few bags of chips for a barbecue,” I mumble.

            “Violet!” Grandma exclaims, slapping her hand on the counter and making me jump. “This isn’t just a barbecue, it is the event of the year, and I am in charge! I will settle for nothing less than flawless.”

            I roll my eyes. “Yeah, but a whole turkey? You really think people will go for turkey at a church picnic? You could have made, like, your potato salad or something. People would have liked that.”

            “Potato salad is for peasants!” Grandma says, waving an oven mitt at me in dismissal. I go back to shaving carrots for her vegetable dish. There’s really no arguing with Grandma, and especially not about the proper way to throw parties. I have to admit that my grandmother’s cooking is amazing, and the parties and dinners she puts on are always elegant and tasteful. I guess I’m just lazy, and I think the church people would enjoy the picnic regardless of fancy desserts.

            I wish Callan was here so we could laugh together at how seriously Grandma takes this, like we often do, but he’s off doing something with Miles, probably trying to catch Pok√©mon. Once they were talking about it in front of Grandma and she asked, “So who is this Mr. Pokey-man and where is he?”

            “Violet, are you just about done with those carrots? You’re shaving so much there’ll be nothing left of them soon.”

            I sigh. “Yes, I’m done.” I hand her the cutting board of peeled carrots and she drops them into her bowl.

            “And you did agree to be a server at the picnic tomorrow, correct?” Grandma says.

            “What? You have servers at a barbecue? What kind of event is this?” I have gotten roped into too many things lately. That is the problem with never having anything to do, except work. I could lie and say I have a shift, but this town is so dang small Grandma would ask around and then somehow I would end up actually having a shift tomorrow. I’d rather serve watered down punch to old ladies than work a day I don’t have to at the Coop, although really it’s just picking between the lesser of two evils since I’ll probably get asked stupid questions either way. For a second I think about the possibility of skipping town and escaping all of this, which makes me think of the letter I threw out the other day, which makes my stomach seize in panic. I try to bury all thoughts of it.

            “Stop being such a snob, Violet,” Grandma says. “Please be here at ten o’clock sharp, in black slacks and a white blouse.”

            “Please tell me you’ll at least pay me,” I say, half joking.

            Grandma gives me a withering look that makes me fear for my life, so I shut up. 

I have no idea why, but "Potato salad is for peasants" is my favourite line I have ever written. 

Which authors have inspired your writing? What are some embarrassing things you wrote as a kid? 

More embarrassing writing: Early Works Blogfest: My Awesome Childhood Writing // More of My Embarrassing Childhood Writing

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