Today I’m going to talk about something that would normally cause me to shiver in horror and run away: I’m going to discuss the first book I ever wrote, The Awakening Call.
Those of you who are longtime Champions know that I avoid talking about the first book I wrote like it is sick with the plague. I wrote it when I was about 13-years-old. It was a sci fi story that had a flavor of X-Men to it as a lot of my characters had mutant-esque powers. It’s awful, it’s clunky, and while I would prefer to forget about it I feel like it’s necessary to keep it on my computer so I remember how far I’ve come. So why am I bringing up something I would much rather forget?
First of all, I figure you guys can always use a laugh. But the main reason is that I want to encourage the budding writers out there. It’s unfortunate, but while many people want to write books, most of them don’t even finish their first book, much less write more than one. A lot of it is because writing a book is a test of determination and perseverance, but some give up because they feel discouraged. They feel that their work isn’t good enough, or that they don’t have a story of worth to tell.
Here’s the thing, first books are usually terrible. Writing a book is a lot like learning to draw or starting an instrument. It will take a lot of practice and patience before you are able to produce a high quality novel. You can see this in my own writing. My Robyn Hood books were my second and third books released on Amazon. If you compare them to either of the Snow Queen books, it gets really embarrassing.
The Snow Queen books are so much better because I have two editors that went over it, but also because in general I’m a better writer. But let’s really drive the point home and compare passages from my newest, unedited manuscript–Swan Lake–to the first book I ever wrote, The Awakening Call. Click the read more link to see the two books.
The Awakening Call (KM: Brace yourselves–seriously.)
A voice cracked over a loud speaker in the hallways.
Bleep, “Will Officer and Luteniut Tehl report to commander Shea’s office. Will Officer Artemis and Officer Lana report to Commander Smith’s office please, thank you.” Bleep. (KM: I kept the spelling errors in to show you how bad this was, even WITH spellcheck’s help.)
Officer Tehl, also known as Artemis pushed a small button on his telicast and replied. “On our way!”
Artemis is a tall, handsome, silver haired man with piercing blue eyes in his late 40’s. His wife, Officer Tehl, or Lana, was a tall slim black haired beauty in her mid 40’s. (KM: Wow, nothing like a good “Bash-you-over-the-head-with-a-description” to start off a book.)
“Yes Lana?” Artemis asked turning around nearly colliding with his wife.
Lana narrowed her green cat eyes, tossed her head and ordered. “We should go this way, it’s faster.” She said pointing to a long hallway on the left. (KM: Why does Lana sound like she’s 13 when it’s established she’s supposed to be in her 40s? Because I was 13 when I wrote this.)
Together they walked down the long colorless hallway, their footsteps echoing on the empty walls. Hundreds of doors cluttered the walls but Lana and Artemis walked on, ignoring them. At last they reached the end of the hallway. (KM: The descriptions…they pain me)
“Open.” Lana commanded the door. It beeped, a few lights flashed, and then it opened. Lana and Artemis walked into a white room with a big metal desk in the center of the room. Behind the desk was a small mousy-looking woman with big, round, bottle cap glasses that magnified her eyes. They perched on her nose, as she peered down at them.
“Commander Smith will see you now!” She squeaked.
Artemis smiled, his white teeth glinting, and said. “Thank you!”
“Your welcome” She squeaked falling off her stool in surprise.
Lana and Artemis made their way toward a tall gray door in the back of the room. They straightened their gray Galaxy Command Uniforms that had a small 4 pointed star in the left shoulder, pushed their hands into the gel pad, waited while it read their fingerprints, than entered the room once the door swung open. (KM: If you’re still reading this by this point, you have my admiration.)
The office was large and spacious. The floor was covered in thick navy blue carpeting. The walls were white with a few oil paintings scattered around. There was a huge window in the back of the room that allowed the Commander to see out into space. An oak desk was placed in the center of the room with two large comfortable blue leather chairs in front of it. The commander was sitting in a large silk covered chair behind the desk. She was paging through a file, unaware of her company. She had short dirt brown hair with sharp brown eyes. Her smile lines were barely visible even though she had just turned 45. She had a kind, warm face with a tall muscular build. This was Commander Smith, one of the nine commanders of the Galaxy Command Force, and Captain of The USS America, the huge space ship that Lana and Artemis were standing in now.
Wow. That was worse than I expected. I’ll give you a moment to recover…Okay, let’s put that monstrosity behind us and move on to the first page of Swan Lake! (Disclaimer: This page of Swan Lake hasn’t yet been edited.)
Odette missed her fingers the most. That was probably the worst part about not being human—the inability to grasp things and pick them up. On second thought, she really missed her legs too, and her arms of course…so perhaps Odette just missed being human. Irritated, she dragged her orange beak through her white feathers as she floated on the lake’s surface and waited impatiently for the sun to set.
There’s much to do tonight. The first of the casks have arrived; they’ll need to be inspected. If they leak, it will be a disaster.
The setting sun was hidden by the thick forest that surrounded most of Swan Lake, but Odette could tell by the darkly stained sky that it wasn’t much more than a sliver on the horizon. She bobbed up and down in the water and watched a large white swan peck a fluffy gray fledgling—a cygnet—the only one of their flock.
Zina got back from her solo run to Torrens. I’ll need to hear her report and make arrangements to receive the rest of our payment from the client…
The water beneath Odette’s white swan body glowed. Droplets of water began to float, levitating in the air thanks to the magic that churned around her like a current. Bells clanged, and her wings were pulled back as water encircled her in a smooth cocoon. Light shone everywhere, and the pang of her body stretching out was a familiar comfort. Her feet—her wonderfully useful human feet—touched the sandy bottom of the lake, and the light faded.
Odette had swapped her white swan feathers for barely-tamed, dirty-water-blonde hair. Her eyes were no longer dark, but a bright hazel. She stood knee-high in water, surrounded by people where previously there had been swans.
Odette stretched her arms out in front of her, feeling the peculiarity of her human limbs compared to her swan wings. “Nadia.”
Nadia—a blank-faced woman with dark brown hair that hung over her eyes—nodded. “Role Call. Pyotr and Dima.”
Do you see what I mean? Even in it’s rough format, Swan Lake is a MUCH better read than The Awakening Call. Obviously I’m much older now than I was when I wrote The Awakening Call, but the quality of writing is so much higher, and it’s not all due to age, but also to practice. I have over twenty books available on Amazon, but I’ve written an additional eight or so that will never see the light of day. I don’t regret writing them because they made me a better writer.
So, writers, please don’t be discouraged! Do you see where I started, and you see where I am now? I know it’s hard to carry through and write an entire book, but it’s an extremely rewarding experience, and you won’t get better any other way.
Well, now that I’ve ripped that mandate off, I’m going to retire to lick my wounds a.k.a. re-bury the Awakening Call file. Champions, have a lovely week. Until next time!