Today, as part of the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain, I’m writing a post based on the prompt: “What is the first thing you remember writing of your own accord?” I urge you to read other posts on the chain – I had the hard job of starting, and I’m sure they’ll all render me insignificant as soon as they post! All the details are on this page.
Just recently, on the internet, I’ve started using my real name, or part of it, and calling myself Miriam Joy. That’s the name I plan to use if I get published, and the name that I use on YouTube. But for several years now, I’ve been using the name ‘delorfinde’. There are variations – “Delorfinde”, “delorfinde”, “delorfilinde” (which is actually the full version), “Delorfinde Mairim Telcontar”, “Delorfinde Aniviel Telcontar”, “Delorfinde Telcontar”…. the list goes on.
But that’s the name I’ve been using.
I think the first website on which I ever used it as a username was Runescape, if you know what that is. I may be wrong, but that’s definitely the first one. Later, it became my handle on Elfwood, Protagonize, NaNoWriMo, WordPress, YouTube… There came a point when I was so used to being called ‘Del’ that I started signing emails to teachers like that, much to their confusion.
But where did the name come from?
I generally say that it came from a story I was writing when I was nine or ten. This isn’t true. Sometimes, I’ll tell people that it was a name my sister gave to me, my ‘Elvish’ name. This is true, in a way. But really, it came from a play.
It’s funny that I should be given this prompt now, because I actually found this play in a pile of papers on Tuesday of this week, and it’s beside me as I write. It’s called ‘Escape!’, and the version I’ve got here – I believe I was nine, although I was younger for the original – is written in the font “Papyrus”. Ouch.
The first line is this:
narrator: Long ago there lived some elves, but they weren’t just ordinary elves, they were Zorronor, Zelcanva and Delorfinde. One day…
And so it goes on. What most people find interesting about the play (besides how bad it is) is how many times I reference The Lord Of The Rings. Hey, I was an educated kid, I’d read it by the time I’d been eight for a month.
This play turned into a story. The story turned into a book. It became my first long term project, and I have to say that I also found the story the other day, too. Then I found the ‘book’, or several copies of it. Printed manuscripts, three different versions, covered with edits. Lovely! By this time I was ten/eleven, and in Year Six at primary school. I spent hours and hours on it! It was my masterpiece, the thing that was going to make me famous, and by the time I stopped working on it, it must have been thirty or forty pages long!
What? They tell you to recycle things to save trees. I didn’t need it. Hell, the thing never even got a proper title – look at that edition on the left. I experimented with so many, and edited it so much, and none of that changed the fact that it was an unoriginal, unbelievable story written by a 10-year-old.
But it was the first story I actually wrote. That play was my first foray into creative writing outside of the class room. Oh, I wrote loads at school, and got several ‘head teachers awards’ for my writing (I could get away with copying the plot of LotR, since my teacher hadn’t read it), but I never wrote outside of school. Not really. Not until then.
I’m not even making this up. Here’s an older version, not written in Papyrus, with my name at the top in proud highlighter. You know, I made my friends perform this.
Nowadays, I look at that play and think, Oh, man, did I really write that? But the same’s true of the things I wrote a year later. Two years later. Three years later. I look at them now, and wonder what on Earth I was thinking.
I gave a session at a Creative Writing Club that I help to run, and told them all about e-publishing and how they could go out and publish their stories now but they shouldn’t. What was my reasoning? Well, they’re twelve years old. Thirteen at a push. When they’re fifteen, sixteen, twenty, they’re going to look back at their work and wonder if they really wrote that.
I know this because I’ve done it too. Even now my sister warns me not to be too proud of my work because I’ll hate it later. And I’m not saying everything you write is terrible, I’m saying that there is a difference between believing in yourself, and refusing to see what’s wrong with your story.
Most published novels, ‘debut’ novels, are not the first novel the author wrote. Why? Because they improved.
And yeah, when I was eight, that play was amazing and I couldn’t understand why my friends were so reluctant to act out the other parts for me (especially Zelcanva, who doesn’t even appear for several pages).
And when I was ten, that story was amazing and was going to be published.
I have files in my computer from when I was eleven, twelve, thirteen, optimistically labelled ‘stories to publish’ or ‘best ever stories’. They’re terrible.
But everybody has to start somewhere, right?
PS – The ‘book’ version of Escape! contained a fantastic death scene, though I say so myself. Delorfinde had her throat ripped out by Zorinore (yes, the spelling changed) in her werewolf form! Isn’t that the best thing for a ten-year-old to be writing? Oh, and don’t forget the vampire, Shem. And the dragon that eventually brought good ole Delorfinde back to life….