A few weeks ago I was going through an old box of stuff that has followed me around for the last 25 years. One of the items I found was a printout of a short story I wrote at the age of 18. When I first picked it up I thought it might be something I could polish up and shop around. Then I read it.
The story itself is kind of neat. It’s a story about two samurai who, having been separated for 26 years, find themselves facing each other as foes on the battlefield. It’s a story about redemption, and honor. At least, that’s what I tried to make it.
Upon reading it after all of this time (oddly enough, nearly 26 years later), I am appalled at the lack of quality. Besides the grammar, spelling, and punctuation problems, the characters are flat, uninteresting, and a bit cliché. The narrative changes tense midway through for some reason. There is almost no action, and a whole lot of (poorly written) dialogue. The technical details of Feudal Japan are…laughable at best. In short, it’s pure crap.
But, I will keep these yellowed pages, with their dot-matrix printing and excessively narrow margins. Mainly because they represent what I was. A hopeful, yet almost talentless writer who thought for sure he was the next Robert E. Howard. Ok, in some respects, not much has changed. I have some talent now, at least.
I thought about scanning the story and sharing it here. But, I don’t think I can bring myself to do that. I’m not sure I even want to let my wife read it (though I probably will, just for laughs).
One thing that did come from this little trip down memory lane is a reminder that I have improved. I’ve never been one to toot my own writer’s horn. I try to be humble, and I usually just assume my writing is crap until a neutral third-party says otherwise. However, I can honestly say with 100% confidence that the 43 year old Tom is a MUCH better writer than the 18 year old Tom was. But, I’m pretty sure any writer of my age or older can say that. So, I guess I’m in good company.