Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ten Years in the Blink of an Eye

Origin Story

Ten years ago in 2004 I had to write a short story for my English class, but I put off writing it until the night before it was due. That night I typed out a story that was nearly a page long (635 words long) influenced by the images I saw in a Stephen King pop-up adaptation of "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon". I loved writing it and my teacher praised me for its creativity and quality for my age. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a writer.

The stories that I wrote shortly after that were forgettable, uninspired, dark, stream-of-consciousness, emotional outlets of my early teenage years. (Years later a college professor would help me realize that dramatic, emotional exposition was the essence of my writing voice, so I suppose those early stories are fitting.) I never cared much about those stories that immediately followed, but the first one would prove to stick in my brain for years afterward despite how much I'd grown and changed as a person.

Revisiting the Past

In fact, that first story stuck with me so much that I rewrote it from scratch five years later in 2009. This second version benefited from a higher skill level, imagination, and vocabulary. I was able to take the essence of the original, then alter and stretch it to just over two pages (1,527 words long). It was really fun to write again, and sort of acted like a perfect reflection of the skills I had gained in the past five years. It's one thing to compare old and new stories to see how much I've grown as a writer, but it's another thing entirely to compare old and new versions of the same story. I quickly decided that I would rewrite my first story every five years to see how much I could improve on the same idea with each new iteration as well as use them as a sort of photograph of my exact skill level and style as a writer at that time.

So here we are, five years after the first rewrite and ten years after the original. I remembered the idea to rewrite the story early this year, but put it off in favor for working on my novel and other short stories. Just last week it occurred to me that I only had one week left in the year in which to keep the promise to myself, so I quickly made it my next immediate goal to rewrite the story that started it all ten years ago.

The Same Story, Ten Years Later

The third iteration of the story yet again breaks down the original plot to its bare bones, then adds some new flesh based on my current style and interests. The newest version stretches to four whole pages (2,784 words long), mixes up the twist ending, adds more personality to the unnamed narrator, explores a bit more of an internal struggle in place of the external one, and overall accurately represents where I am at this stage in my writing.

It's amazing to realize that it's been ten years since I wrote that first story. In that time I've been through high school and college, got a job, met a girl and got married, started this blog, and have written a lot more stories. I have no idea what the future might bring, but I'm excited to see what form my first story takes on when I rewrite it another five, and then ten years from now.

Here's to many more years of writing.

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