at seventeen;

When I was seventeen, I wrote a novel.

That sounds a lot cooler than it really was; it was part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which devotes the month of November to cranking out a 50,000-word novel. 2002 is the only year I completed the challenge, and I definitely remember days where I was just writing whatever came to mind because I just needed to hit a word count.

This November marks ten years, and I have yet to re-read the “novel” in its entirety. Over the years, I’ve sent it to a couple friends, both of whom came back with amazing compliments (I have awesome friends, and that was also only a year after I wrote it so everyone was rather young). After the way I’ve been feeling lately, I decided to dig it up and read it to see if there’s something there.

Somehow it’s both better and worse than I expected. I’m not wrong in thinking I can write, but it’s also very obvious I was seventeen. The character development is… lacking, and the amount of “telling” vs. “showing” is absurd. It also sent me back, immediately, to where I was at seventeen.

The main character is seventeen and was obviously based on myself, because what else does a seventeen-year-old have to write about? I wrote a lot about partying because I’d recently gotten drunk for the first time (a night I still think about fondly) and the main character’s boyfriend had a “big secret” which was something or other about drugs. Drugs were A Big Deal to me at seventeen. Her best male friend is so blatantly based on my high school neighbor/boyfriend/best friend/bane of my existence that it’s laughable. The boyfriend she meets in the book cries. I guess I was tired of emotionless guys when I wrote it, but there is nothing romantic about a guy you’ve been dating for a month crying all over you about his dad being a jerk.

And I switch viewpoints a lot. It’s a little exhausting; it’s very obvious when it’s switching because of the formatting and line breaks, but damn if it isn’t tiring to read.

I’m not very far in yet. I sent it to my Kindle and started reading it the other night, and it sort of solidified my dream of having a real book on a Kindle someday. And the thing is? While it’s all sorts of seventeen-year-old-girl ridiculous, it’s maybe not that bad. As in, maybe it’s salvageable. Even the little bit I’ve read so far has given me ideas of what else I could do with these characters, what else could happen, how else it could be written.

I forget how it all ends. I’m kind of excited to find out… and then maybe write it all over again and actually do something with this desire to write. I’m not deluded enough to think it would go anywhere, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

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