I wrote my first novel at age 12. And it was as terrible as you’d think. Filling 4 1000 page notebooks with handwritten scrawls, it documented the story of sophisticated 17 year old ingenue Taylor, who on the verge of a successful life with a music scholarship to her favourite university discovers the child she’s babysat for the past 2 years, Emma, is being abused by her parents.
Devastated, Taylor confronts Emma’s father only to have her future music studies threatened when he manufactures evidence of her plagiarizing admissions essays. Backed into a corner and desperate to save Emma, Taylor impulsively decides to take the baby and run – but not before her boyfriend Laurie insists on coming with them. With nothing but a car, $300 and each other, Taylor and Laurie must figure out a plan to ensure their beloved girl is kept safe.
Its fair to say my beautiful, sophisticated and independent protaganist represented escapism for me at its finest. An awkward pre-teen, I dreamed of my future adolescence and scribbled madly while I spent every Friday and Saturday night babysitting for families in my local town.
My novel is, of course lost. We moved 3 more times between when I completed it and my family settling in Yellowknife. But I did complete it – Taylor and Laurie manage to prove the abuse through a dangerous mission to steal family photos and medical records, and return to triumph as Emma’s parents are arrested. However, the duo are still convicted of kidnapping and sent to juvenile detention for 5 years. Calmed in the knowledge that Emma is safe, Taylor remains defiant and unapologetic – vowing to marry Laurie as soon as they are released.
I remembered this epic writing exercise when lamenting to myself the fact that I am no longer grabbed by plot lines in my mind and driven to write – whether by lack of practice or whether its because I’m actually living my life instead of imagining it, I just don’t feel driven to get a story out from inside my head in the same way.
However, its made me realise I need not be intimidated about writing future novels since after all, I’ve already written one by hand.