So this is a meme that I wrote up yesterday on tumblr – though I remember stumbling across something similar on deviantART back in 2009. It’s one that I feel rather strongly about as writing isn’t one of those crafts that you can always see how you’ve progressed. Once an artist lines their art up year next to year, they can see the differences. They can see where they’ve improved, what they can work on improving next.
It’s a bit harder for writers to look at the text and see the progression – our work is long and it’s a bit tedious to see the differences when you have to go through 1000+ words, right? So that’s where this meme comes in.
I challenge you to line up bits and pieces of your work from year to year. See how you’ve improved.
Inspired by It’s a Writer Thing’s post “It’s a Writer Start”
Writing is one of those arts where you don’t necessarily see how you’ve been progressing through the years. After all, you’re used to looking at it. You won’t see the changes as easily.
So! The challenge! Post work from each year you’ve been writing. See the changes through the years. If you’ve only been writing three years? That’s fine! Been writing ten? This might get long!
repeat for each year you have writing for~
pretty simple right?
Let’s let ourselves see the improvement in our writing.
Repost this on your blog with the tag “Your Writing through the Years” – and link back to this post please, I want to see how everyone has improved as well.
And now to lead by example! Some of mine will be behind a cut since I started writing in 2001 (earlier, technically. I just don’t have copies of that stuff!)
Year: 2001 (age 12 or 13, I might have started this in 6th grade at age 11)
Sample: Andy walked slowly into Setsuna’s room, looking around with her bleary eyes. As she glanced at a guild mirror that she never knew that Setsuna had owned before. Andy looked at it a little more closely, and gasped. Setsuna’s reflection reflected back at her, except that Setsuna looked different, perhaps it was the look of horror fixed on her face. Andy let out a rattling breath, and moved her hand closer to the mirror; she looked at her hand and watched it disappear.
Comments: I’m beyond embarrassed by this at this age. I can’t believe I turned this in as an assignment at one point. Look at me writing fantasty-ish things~
Year: 2002 (13 or 14, I’m inclined to say 8th grade for this. so age 13)
Sample: Now I felt Alana’s nervous life force flit through, followed by Jason. I closed the portal, and looked around. I didn’t believe my eyes, I wouldn’t. The sight was not beautiful, like I had imagined. On the contrary, it was dark and dank. I pulled my glasses off, I didn’t need them in this world, and I now turned my eyes to myself. My hair was about two or three feet longer, and my clothes weren’t brightly colored anymore. On the contrary, my clothes were black and brown. Baggy black pants and brown boots, tight black shirt covered by armor, made just for me, and a metal helmet, to top it off, I had so many weapons hidden on me that I couldn’t count them.
Comments: look at me writing in the 1st person and working in a fantasy world. I want to revisit this idea now that I have a bit more technical background with writing. It wasn’t a terrible one.
Year: 2003 (age 14, early freshman year)
Sample: “Just Magda please.” Magda said in irritation. Magda glanced over her schedule. It seemed quite boring to her, since her old school, Constance Academy, had covered many of the subjects in her freshman and sophomore years. Sighing, Magda ventured out into the halls, still straying away from the large block of people near the center of the hall. People stared at her once again, but now were shocked at her unapparent shyness, and her appearance.
Comments: an attempt into something more young adult, I guess. Not an idea I’d continue with, probably. But it was a fun experiment! Friends said it made them cry~
Year: 2004 (age 15, sophomore year)
Sample: There are several ways to describe the strange affairs of Andraya Knight. Always, she had been described as different from the other children. While they sat and played with their toys, Andraya had read through books that people twice her age had difficulty with. She was avery bright young girl indeed. However, that wasn’t the only reason she fell under the title of different. She was adopted when she was five years old, not even the orphanage could explain how she had arrived there. Even at the mere age of five, she had been an exceptional beauty with raven hair and vivid green eyes. Misfortune seemed to follow her very closely. There was hardly a moment in which she wasn’t in quite a deal of trouble with some authority figure. At the current moment, she was sitting in a rather dejected fashion in the office of her headmaster.
Comment: A story that I don’t remember where I was going with it. At all. Whatsoever. Still playing around with fantasy here. I like some of the figurative language later on. I was starting to play around with that more.
Year: 2005 (age 16, junior year)
Sample: She giggled at her own ingenuity and she dropped the last few feet into the soft white sand. It had been nearly a month since she was allowed outside, due to the dangerous Flasama warriors that were lurking about. She skipped through the sand, occasionally doing a cartwheel, laughing freely and uninhibitedly. Asra waded up to her ankles into the sea, feeling immediately at ease. She flung her arms above her head, manipulating the water so it fell in cascades around her.
Comment: Ivian is a world I want to revisit at some point in the future. I think I could finally do it justice, high school me couldn’t handle it.
Year: 2006: (age 17, senior year)
Sample: The wailing of her alarm startled her from her sound sleep. Marita stood slowly, stretching her arms above her head. Yawning, she slipped into a pair of khaki cargo pants and a black tank top with a rose on it. Her cargo pants slunk down her bony hips as she walked. Recently, she had lost a great deal of weight and her wardrobe was beginning to not fit properly. Of course, she was stubborn and refused to wear a belt, much less buy one.
Comment: I remember having written a lot more on this story than what was in the file, apparently I lost the rest of it. Maybe I started to be slightly better with language?
Year: 2007 (age 18, college freshman)
Sample: Growling at the memories that were swirling in her head unwanted, she walked towards her apartment. She was now twenty, though she felt much older. Five years since she had been introduced to Ivian and realized she would never be innocent again. As much as the wish lingered on her lips begging to be spoken, in her mind, or in her heart, it would never be so. In turn, she began to embrace the life of a hunter, enjoying the rush of adrenaline. If she could never return to the world of humans, innocents, then why not embrace the one she had been put in?
She slammed into her apartment; her neighbors were used to her outbursts. Devon went about making a dinner for herself, she was oddly hungry. Tomorrow, she vowed, she would go to the local mercenary’s guild, and check out the jobs. It had been awhile since she had taken a decent job and she was feeling the strain for money in all aspects of her life. Possibly she was taking the job to prove to Nikita that she wasn’t a cazadorita, a little hunter.
Comments: MORE IVIAN. I liked this story in particular, but it was a convoluted thing. Devon was a fun character to work with. Again, I want to revisit Ivian now that I have more experience.
Year: 2008 (age 19, college sophomore)
I’ll sleep when I’m still as dirt.
Sleep is expensive and
college students are poor.
Sometimes I wonder
who stole my sleep funds.
Was it the bogeyman?
Was it some vampiric college student?
That fund has always been like a colander
since I was young
If I’m too poor for sleep,
shouldn’t the doctor just tell me?
My funds for sleep have always
run dry as bones.
As we say, a luxury we can’t afford.
Sleep, a concept as laughable as
Valentine’s Day when you’re single.
Comments: …poetry….??? Poetry is something I’ve written quite a lot of – I have an entire TWO BINDERS of it upstairs. All from high school. Those poems are shit. This one is…still pretty crappy. But it’s getting better. I may or may not have been burned out on fiction then.
Year: 2009 (age 20, college junior)
Sample: Aria knew Piano could feel her doubt, she wasn’t one to let dreams effect her. Ever. She stood slowly, swaying for a moment. She needed sustenance, she couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. Aria knew it was more than 24 hours, but her memory was slightly fuzzy – the last 72 hours had been spent running from some low level Project Maestro operative trying to bring her in. She knew they weren’t serious about bringing her in at the moment, if they were, they would send another Opus. Someone with an AI. Someone just like her. She did wonder why they would stop actively looking for her, but knew better than to drop her guard.
Comments: OPUS 1. As in, the original draft of Opus Aria! I started writing this randomly in the middle of my gender and lit class. Look at that sudden cyberpunk. Look at it. Gaze upon it.
Year: 2010 (age 21, college senior)
It was a broken mirror,
mercury daggers striking
the delicate crook
of my arm and changed
me to a shimmering ghost
that feels like heat waves
over asphalt on a summer day.
The shade of me dwells
in a maple. I am full
of knots like arthritic hands.
My world is upside down,
the grass is my heaven,
my roots reaching out
through clouds of soil.
Comments: So poetry was a big thing for me. I did my big senior project in college on poetry. Though this was from my advanced poetry writing course the following semester. I really like the imagery in this poem.
Year: 2011 (age 22)
Sample: Darien Marcellus held the letter in her trembling left hand. She rarely got mail, much less mail from an unknown sender. She sat down, faint, at her dining room table; shoving some papers out of the way so she could have some room. The note was handwritten, in what appeared to be an old fashioned ink pen. The handwriting itself was sharp and slanted. It immediately made her feel uncomfortable.
“I don’t have time for letters…” Darien said, standing up and shaking away all the discomfort the letter had sent into her spine. “I need to get to work.”
Comment: This was the first draft of Opus Prelude – at the time it was called Prior Lives. I never intended it to be part of the Opus series and then John Stratton waltzed his big, annoying self into the story and suddenly it was actually cyberpunk-ish. Pro tip: outlines can save you from having characters barge in. Sometimes.
Year: 2012 (age 23)
Sample: Tony rolled down his window and let the hot summer air flood his car. It almost felt refreshing in comparison to his arctic air conditioning. It was a smaller town – but still quite nice. He found himself missing the old area that they had lived. It hadn’t been a big town by any means, but it been something. The worst part of Rose Falls was the fact that the woman his dad had married – Andrea Miles – came with two teenage daughters. Of course, Tony had met them already. He had reluctantly been involved in the marriage ceremony as his father’s best man. Eloise and Irena had been Andrea’s bride’s maids. The latter had been alright…the former had barely masked her extreme dislike of Tony.
Comment: 2012 was a tough writing year for me. There was a lot of good, but there was a lot of negative. My grandmother died and that really impacted my output. This was my NaNoWriMo from that year – an urban fantasy with some sci-fi undertones. It was a rewrite of an idea I’d handled in high school. I still want to finish it.
Year: 2013 (age 24)
Sample: He whimpered and brought his eyes up to Aryne’s. There was a strange, intense focus to the other man’s eyes and he had to wonder if his own were looking like that or if they were frightened and unfocused. All he could do was hold tighter to the strange fighter as it felt like his nerves burst into flame. Whether this was several minutes, a few seconds, or actual years, Mako couldn’t actually tell. The only thing that mattered in the world was Aryne. It felt like he had known him for years and he could literally feel their minds touching. It was strange, the sensation of their consciousnesses brushing against each other. A feather-light touch, tentative. Unsure. But that meant it was working! The bond was actually working!
His body felt too hot and far heavier than it had earlier, but the burning pain in his nervous system was fading away. As the fire died out, the lingering feeling of being intrinsically connected remained. Mako’s hand was still twined together with Aryne’s and he found himself not wanting to let go. Not right now. He dragged his eyes away from Aryne. The thugs had barely moved closer – it was like time had barely moved. Like the bond itself had only taken a few seconds and they had just been so caught up in them that time had dilated.
Comment: my first winning NaNoWriMo! Bloodbound is a story I’m working through still – I can’t decide the actual direction I want it to take. It’s…difficult. Maybe the initial idea will work with some serious tweaks…
Year: 2014 (age 25)
Sample: Everything after the tattoo had been done was a blur in Cheshire’s mind. He remembered being shuffled through various physical exams to make sure he didn’t have any communicable diseases or anything like scorched atmosphere lung toxicity. That might not have been contagious, but it apparently wasn’t something the government wanted around their facilities. Cheshire supposed he could understand the sentiment. It might not be contagious, but it certainly looked like it and it would certainly cause a panic.
And a bunch of panicked Adepts was the last thing that the government wanted.
Comments: Cheshire is one of my favorite characters to work with. He came about in 2010 and it took until NaNo 2014 for me to really work on his story. This one is 90% outlined and will be published eventually.
Year: 2015 (age 26)
Sample: He had put a lot of thought into who he wanted going on this mission. All of his Opera were extremely capable. But he needed a certain spark for this mission. Jinto had been an obvious choice. While John didn’t want to burden him any longer, he knew he had to. Jinto was, by far, the best with strategy out of the Opera. Keiran had been more of a begrudging choice. But Keiran had a passion for protecting others, even if he hid it from most of the world. It had taken John years to actually find that portion of his personality. Ava had been the most difficult choice. He’d wanted Madeline’s determination for the mission – but he couldn’t lose his other daughter. He just couldn’t. He figured that Ava would provide interesting insight for the plans – and the woman had her own brand of determination. One that he hoped would keep Keiran in line.
Comments: 2015 was a difficult year in writing for me. I wasn’t productive, I was very busy, and extremely stressed. But I did start writing Opus Requiem properly. So there’s that. This is a novel that’s been in the works since I finished Opus Aria, it’s the direct sequel to it. It’s 100% outlined. It will be published. It’s the final book in the Opus quartet.
Year: 2016 (age 27)
Sample: Lightning flashed across Alia’s vision and pain blitzed across her back. She hit the ground hard, body rolling from the momentum. It felt like there were shards of glass grating under her skin with each movement. She quickly scrambled, groaning as she did, to her back so she could see what was possibly coming. Her heart was pounding and her body trembling, but she was okay, or at least okay enough to keep moving if she had to.
Her eyes settled onto the girl before her. She was a few feet away, the crescent moon hanging in the air behind her. Her silver hair was fanning out in the slight breeze. None of that mattered though – the only thing that Alia could focus on was the blood red protrusion on the girl’s arm. There was something about it that seemed animalistic, more feral than human, but not like any creature she’d ever seen before. It was muscular, large, far exceeding the size of the girl’s natural arm, and had long, wicked claws at the end of each finger. She almost thought she could see the natural arm through the thick, pulsating redness, but it might have been a trick of the light.
Comments: this is a tiny, tiny excerpt from my big visual novel project. It’s from the intro scene. I’m really proud of myself for tackling a project like this since it’s scared me so much. My focus sucks, my organization is awful…but I can do this. Also? It’s a return to fantasy. Looks like I’m coming full circle.
It was a fun exercise to do this. I really enjoyed looking back through my writing – if only because my old writing made me feel really good about my current writing. We all have to start somewhere, right?