Thursday, November 17

Oh, if the files could only speak

I'm a hard copy gal and I have saved most everything I've ever written. I have milk crates full of files in the garage, a file cabinet at my desk, along with a file carton on top of my desk and several file trays. I love my files, I do.

I have notebooks with finished manuscripts lining a closet shelf. Floppy disks, and jump drives stashed in desk drawers. Most of my past writings bring back memories of what I was going through at the time that I wrote it and transport me back to the Margie that once was.

circa 1973--I was 11:

From: Dot and the Covered Wagons

Let me tell you about the time in 1801, when I and my family crossed the plains. I had an elder brother, James, and a younger brother, lil Jon.

That was the story that made me want to be a writer. It was the first time I realized that I could create a story. And no, I'd never read the Little House books and this was before the television series debuted. It was simply an exercise the teacher put up on the board and we chose the first sentence and went from there.

My grandmother hated the story. Mostly because she was offended that I chose her name as the heroine. "I'm not that old!" But as all writers know, any reaction is a good reaction.

As I dug this out of a file, I came across some notes and diagrams for the story. And had to chuckle, because I'm still doing diagrams to plot out my action scenes. And my chapter lengths? One-two handwritten pages. Yeah, even back then I was into short chapters.

circa 1977--I was 13

From: A World of Dreams

"My name is Kevin Kansa." I stood there and stared at him, then I heard a whistle of a dove that brought me back to my senses.

"Oh," I said. "My name is Keliegh Kontosova."

"Kontosova? What a nice name. Recon you could take me home for one meal?"

"Reckon I could," I said, smiling. He smiled back like we shared a big secret noone else could ever share.

So, I apparently I thought I lived in the rural west or something and I really liked the letter "K" because 90% of the names in this particular story begin with a K. Side note: My oldest daughter's name? Kristen.

My junior high/high school writings are filled with angst and teenage fantasy. If I couldn't get the boy of my dreams for real, I could capture him on the page.

circa 1981--age 19

From: The Death Phase

DeeDee rolled over and opened the drawer in her nightstand. Digging behind the books and general junk she felt the smoothness of iron. Glancing at the closed door, DeeDee puller father's .38 revolver out of the drawer. Running her hand over the barrel, she smiled. The coldness of iron seemed to fit her mood. She opened the cylinder. The six bright silver bullets stared back at her.

Yep, those were some dark days, my post-high school, pre-hubbie days. That story was actually written after a neighbor girl, 12, shot and killed herself. It was my way of trying to understand what could have been going on in her head.

For me, sometimes writing stories was a way of journaling. I found several vignettes told in the third person of things that actually happened or explained feelings I was actually having at that time. Things that were far too personal to actually assign to myself at the time. A lot of my early stuff were also my fantasies come to print. Not lurid fantasies, more like alternative lifelines.

Personally, I'm glad I have all these--if only to see how far I've come and how much my penmanship has improved :)

But, as a writer, these are my history. My legacy.


  1. Margie, this is great! I wish I still had my earliest writings. In both high school and college I took semesters of creative writing...and I still remember those stories - at least bits and pieces! - but I wish I had them to go back through. The only things I have left from my 'childhood' writings are several notebooks of truly, really, horribly bad poetry.

  2. My gosh, what a great post! And I loved Dot's story in particular. Did we all write at least one Oregon Trail (or Chisholm...or wherever...)story. I wrote my 1st book-length when I was 11. It was 105 pages, and I must admit, I hope I burned it. However, I loved reading your history.

  3. I think I've written before about Wilson Rawls visiting my grade school. The one advice I remember him saying, was to keep your writing. He always regretted that he'd burned his chest of stories at a low point in his life.

    And I guess I took it to heart and my stories have followed me everywhere since.

  4. Love this post!

    I so wish I had my first ms. It was a semi-autobiographical, and fun, fun, fun to write. I knew nothing, and I mean noting about wriring rules, and I just wrote what was in my head.

  5. Margie, I loved this. Your earlier stories sound like loads of fun. I would have liked to see more of Dot's story. I think it's hilarious that your grandma didn't like seeing her name as the heroine. Most people are begging to be a character in a story.

  6. Shawn,
    I have files and files of beginnings. And for the most part, when I look back at them, I remember where I thought I was going with it and what was supposed to happen. I had an entire series planned for Dot. I had chapter headings and everything. I guess I used to plot.

    And my grandmother? She was a case. She'd be a book herself. And not a pleasant book. LOL.