The First Thing You Wrote

Creative tendencies often show up in youngsters. If they’re encouraged, they can find a way to blossom soon and the world is graced with prodigies that we don’t need to name as we don’t want to compare ourselves to them. If creative tendencies are left to flower or flounder on their own, it may take years or decades for the person who has such tendencies to realize that’s what they need to do. Creativity must find a way out. 

Every week we ask the Confabulators a question that may further illuminate the blog question or give you some further insight into our working minds. This week we wanted to know about the first attempts our writers made. You’ll find as wide a variety of answers as there are Confabulators answering the question but a common thread was school. Let’s not underestimate what schools can do for creative people. Perhaps our answers will help you understand why…

Christie Holland:

My first attempt to write a novel was during National Novel Writing Month two years ago.  It was an adventure, to say the least.  When I won, I have never been so proud of myself.  My story was complete crap.  Half of my characters didn’t have names, there was very little plot development, and there were so many plot holes that my manuscript looked more like swiss cheese than a novel.  Overall, participating in NaNoWriMo was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  On December 1st I had a new found respect for authors, a new community of writer friends, and a completed manuscript.  Even though it was awful, it was more than I had ever written before November 1st.


Kevin Wohler

Shortly after I graduated from college, I decided to write my first novel. I was convinced it would be The Great American Novel, filled with compelling characters, sparkling narrative, and life-changing wisdom. What did I write about? A group of college kids, of course, including a young woman I had inexplicably named “Jazz.” The book was a reflection on better days, seen through the rose-colored glasses of time. The characters reunited at their old haunts following the funeral of one of their own. I still throw up in my mouth a little when I think about it.


Jack Campbell Jr.:

As a college art major, I took a class in video production.  At the end of the class, they asked us to write a script, then film a project.  I hadn’t written much before I was hooked.  That short scene became the basis for my first screenplay, which was then the launching point for all of my other writing.  I owe my writing career to a community college video production class.


R.L. Naquin:

In fourth grade, I decided L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz should be a play, and I should direct the epic production. I spent days rewriting the novel into what I thought of as a script.

I never shared this information with any of my friends. I didn’t want them fighting over the parts, and I was the director. When I was ready, I would inform them of my casting choices. I was sure they’d all be eager to participate. After about a week, my hand cramped and my interest wandered. Nobody ever knew about it.


Jason Arnett

I believe the first thing I wrote was a play about astronauts in third grade that never was performed. I don’t remember much about it, (I think it was about two pages long) but I know that at that point in my  life I was fascinated with space. I’d gotten an 8”x10” photo of the space shuttle landing and SkyLab was still floating around up in the sky. I think it was for a school assignment of some kind, or a contest, and I kind of wish I’d saved it.


Nancy Cayton Myers:

Poetry workshop 2003, midlife crisis in full swing, kids were old enough now for me to start writing and I’d never written poetry, ever, or read any beyond high school requirements.

The second week I read the poem to the group of fifteen, mostly experienced, published poets.  After I’d finished, the group leader, a poet and professor, looked at me and said, in his beautiful British accent, “Well, er–that was trite and…melodramatic.”  Cringe, but oh god, so true.  And the gauntlet had been thrown.

The next week I brought in another poem, “Tight Circle.”  It was later published in the I-70 Review.

Sara Lundberg:

My very first short story was a class assignment when I was in 1st Grade. We had to write a story and illustrate it. When it was done, our teacher gave each of us a bound copy. I still have mine. It’s entitled Sara and Cristina go to Numberland. I find it ironic that I wrote a story with numbers as characters back then, as much as I have always hated math. Although it’s not a bad story, for a six year old. Maybe someday I’ll clean it up and try to publish it as a children’s book.


Ted Boone:

The first time I tried to write a novel, I was stuck in Virginia living in an empty house and finishing a summer teaching gig. Unfortunate career circumstances made for an ideal writing scenario, however, and I managed 50k in 25 days,. Boy, was I excited! My first novel! Finally, my genius idea was put to page!

Then I read my manuscript, and quickly realized that in those 50,000 words, nothing happened. Nothing. At all.

Luckily (I think?) I took the kick to the gut as a reason to try again.


Larry Jenkins:

To be honest, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  I just kind of rushed through it and finished up really quickly.  The whole thing was embarrassing and kind of unsatisfying . . . the story, I mean.

Cafe Management is run by the administration of The Confabulator Cafe. We keep things running smoothly, post stories by guest authors, and manage other boring back-end tasks.

1 Comment

  • Muriel Green says:

    I wrote my first play when I was in third grade. It was a stage adaptation of one of the Cam Jansen mysteries. I don’t remember which book it was from the series, but my play was a big success. Everyone remembered their lines and the adults clapped.

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