A long time ago I wrote my first novel. It was so long ago that I was still sitting at a desk in a high school that smelled like that lemon-smelling stuff they use to wax the linoleum floors. My locker was an awful contraption that proved my horrible memory for remembering its stupid combination, and all I could think about was boys and writing. I wasn't popular. I had my little group of friends and one guy I crushed on for four solid years. I did kiss him. We never married. I did, however, stick with one thing I still crush on - my writing.
When I sat in class I had a little notebook I would write in with a mechanical pencil. I wrote so tiny that I could fit 15 pages on one sheet. I thought if I wrote that small nobody would be able to read what I was writing. I finished the book and let only my most bestest friends read it. I also let two of my English teachers read it. They said it was good. They encouraged me. They must have been dying with laughter inside. Seriously.
That novel was bad.
Still, if I were an English teacher today I would have said the same thing to someone like myself with a novel like I wrote. It had potential, and that's all that really mattered. To do this day, 16 years later, I still think my writing is bad 95% of the time. I give it to my most trusted friends to read. I even let real agents and publishers and editors read it. They say it's good. They encourage me. Things are a little different now because I believe in myself more. I have more confidence and more experience, but I still doubt my work. I have a novel coming out in September from a traditional publisher. They love my work. Lots of people seem to want to read the book, and I still doubt my work. I have learned a few things, however.
Here are three paragraphs I've carefully chosen for reasons I won't say yet. I would really like to know which paragraph you feel is the best written? Why? Is it sentence structure? Does it have the most confidence, more obvious experience? Does it speak to you more as a reader? Try and pinpoint those reasons as best you can.
I'll be putting up another post later this evening when there are enough comments here for me to draw my conclusions. I hope you'll join me to see my thoughts based on what you say!
The owl lives behind my home in a tall pine that is bald on one side and heavy on the other with frost-laden boughs that groan with every snow fall. At night, when flakes gather in drifts and heaps against my back porch, the owl plunges from his hunting perch, his sooty brown feathers driving tunnels through snow until all that is seen are whirlwinds of white—feathers and snow creating silence in chaos. I strain to hear any sound at all, but only succeed in finding the crashing thumps of my own heartbeat. Solemnly, after I know the kill has taken place, I enter my cabin, assured in the warmth of my small, but necessary fire.
They questioned him the day after Naomi’s disappearance, although he didn’t know anything. Naomi hadn’t shown up to his house the night he asked her to, and that was that. “You were the last to speak to her,” the police kept insisting. “And you’re her best friend. Can’t you give us some clue to what could have happened? Would she run away?” Brad only shook his head, fear clawing at his heart. He was most likely more frightened than Naomi’s own parents, who believed she had just not come home for awhile. She was frequently away from home, but when that happened, she was with Brad. She was not with him now.
I buy a snakeskin bag today, lizard green and shiny patent leather and the silver accents catch the sun on a sunny day before the clouds decide to come. When they do, they split open and rain all hell down for five minutes, plaster my hair to my skin, soak through my white shirt so the boys on the corner smoking pot whistle and lick their lips and yell, “Nice tits!” and I roll my eyes and think immature and wish I’d remembered to bring my long jacket that goes down to my calves. At least my green bag looks good with my green skirt, my six-inch green heels and green toenails that are starting to chip and I need to schedule another pedicure tomorrow and pull out my phone to punch in a reminder. I feel like a walking lime tequila.