My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Today I’ll share with you my first attempt at a novel. We’ll use “novel” very loosely.

My novel was entitled Journey Toward Opportunity and it was about a twelve-year-old immigrant girl from Poland, set in the 1840s. Yes, this is when my fascination with historical fiction began. It was heavily influenced by the American Girl series, which is kind of what this book was supposed to read like, only it was MUCH longer than any of the AG books were.

My main character’s name was weird…her first name wasn’t very Polish. It’s funny because every one else in her family had accurate names, except for her. Her name initially was Favor  Penjowroski. Don’t ask me why I chose that…saw the first name a baby name book, as this was before my family had Internet; the last name may have been from a phone book).  Her name eventually changed to Marya–much more Polish and authentic.

Anyway, it detailed her struggles with leaving her homeland and coming to a new one, along with the issues of transitioning in a society that looked upon immigrants with hesitance. Yes, I know–rather deep stuff for me writing this at age 11. I tried to set it in a town much like the one I lived in–even went to the library and did all sorts of research.

Marya’s nemesis was Amelia Darlington, a “Southern belle” type who didn’t like people different than her. Then I had Callie McAllister, a bright red headed Irish girl (with a temper–a bit cliche I know) who became Marya’s new best friend. There were also the twins–Josephine and Jeremy Broadmore, whose mother was German and helped Marya’s family transition and learn English.

Yes, Marya’s family knew German too–they lived on the border of Germany and Poland (I did my research then, :P). Jeremy became a slight love interest for Marya, much to Amelia’s dismay. I had planned on writing a series; I even had half the second book written by the time I was in sixth grade. I even had a few pictures drawn for this, although I think those have been lost (thankfully!)

This story was “complete” at 176 pages–technically 88 as I wrote a few on the electric typewriter and the bulk by hand on typing paper, front and back, in pencil. I started writing it during Christmas vacation of 1995–at least that’s what the handwriting on the top of the draft said. I think it was finally finished about a year later.

Want an excerpt? Here’s a scene where Marya is being picked on at school and her friend Callie comes to intercede:

“Excuse me,” Callie said, tapping Corbin on the shoulder. “Will you please leave my friend alone?”

Corbin laughed. “What if I said no?”

Callie then said, “Well I’m afraid I’ll have to knock ya down so hard the grass you land on will start cryin’.”

I’m actually rather amazed at the improvement in my writing style from the ridiculous anthology written in fourth grade to less than a year later when I started writing this “novel.” It’s still pretty bad, but much more cohesive than any of the other attempts I had. I guess my strength came from the fact it was a story more than seven or eight pages long.

The characters for Journey never completely went away; I sometimes find myself thinking of this story now at 25. Maybe someday I’ll completely re-write it…

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Comments on: "Blast from My Writing Past, Day 3" (8)

  1. Caitlynn said:

    “Maybe” you’ll re-write it someday? Uh, no, you WILL re-write it. You always used to tell us that we could only read it once you finished it completely, and I haven’t forgotten that. C’mon, sis, I’ve been waiting since I was, like, 8 years old… 😛

    • How about this: I’ll let you read it when you come down to visit. I wish you luck in this venture though, as there’s lots of little edits all over the page; it’s historically inaccurate; and there’s lots and lots of head hopping. Oh and much of the writing is faded since it was written in pencil.

      But you can read it. And remember I was only eleven when much of it was written.

      • Caitlynn said:

        Somehow, and sadly, I’m willing to bet that I will still have read worse. 😛 But alright, sounds good to me. I’ll be sure to keep in mind that you were only eleven at the time.

  2. Oh, that novel sounds so good, Dara! At twelve, I was writing Civil War stories, but still very much as a child without any knowledge on it. I did the research too, but the stories are long since gone.

    I loved the American Girl series. 🙂

    – Corra

    the victorian heroine

    • Oh, there’s still a ton of “historical holes” in it. I was reading a few pages yesterday and thought what I’d written would never happen in the 1840s 😛 But I did some, which I suppose was the start of it all.

  3. You were meant to be a historical fiction writer! I myself started out with fantasy mostly… I think that’s what my next book will be.

  4. It sounds like something interesting to revisit later on. I have a book that I wrote by hand when I was 14, about love triangles, but started veering off toward, “Whose your real mother.” territory. I never finished it.

  5. That’s awesome that you still have the copy! It’s good to look back and reflect — none of those words are wasted. They all went into the writer you are now.

    My sister is hiding my first “book” from me so I don’t find it and burn it. I told her she’d laugh when she read Butterfly Swords. It’s an entirely different story, but the spirit of the travel adventure is in there. 🙂

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