Thursday, August 7, 2014

No Threat to Society

by Alan

What’s the worst thing I ever wrote?

Hmm. The worst thing? Hard to settle on just one; there are so many contenders.

I mean, seriously? Bad writing? I’m an engineer. They practically taught us to write in desiccated techno-speak. It seemed the worse I wrote, the better my grade.

Of course, writing is so subjective—one person’s dreck might be another person’s cup o’ tea. And when evaluating, do first drafts count? What about poetry? (The best/worst of my poetry couldn’t hold a candle to Tracy’s example yesterday.) What about stuff I wrote in grade school? Or college? (Did I mention I’m an engineer?)

You see, not such an easy question to answer.

Here’s what I can say:

My first attempt at a novel currently resides in an asbestos-lined vault, buried deep in my backyard, where it poses no threat to society. (I guess that answers the question, huh?) The prose is terrible and there are more plot holes than plot. (It wasn’t all bad. I liked the font I used.) Let’s stipulate that it’s best if we let that one continue to rest in peace.

A few years ago, I went back and took a look at my second attempt at a novel. The prose was horrid in this one, too, but I liked the story and the characters and the structure. So I decided to resurrect it from the depths of my hard drive.

I opened two windows on my laptop, a blank Word document in one and the manuscript in the other. I then proceeded to re-write every single sentence in the book, revising as I went along. After more revision, I can honestly say that it doesn’t stink!

I could go on with more examples of less-than-stellar work, but then I might run the risk of making this blog post the worst thing I’ve ever written.

And there’s only so much room in my subterranean vault.


I had a lot of fun hanging with fellow Criminal Minds Art and Meredith (and the other writers, too) at the recent DC Noir at the Bar. Here’s a video of me reading:




Meredith Cole said...

You never told me you had an asbestos-lined vault in your yard!!! Why didn't you make it bigger so your friends could bury their first attempts at novels, too?!!

It was great to see you at Noir at the Bar! Thanks for sharing your story!

Susan C Shea said...

I have the next best thing to a vault: typewritten, rubber-banded, yellowing 150 pages that does not exist in digital form and is therefore moving slowly, inexorably into compost. Good post, would never have guessed you were (are?) an engineer!