Don't you just love books? Sometimes I just can't get enough of them. There's something thrilling about opening the cover and reading the first few sentences of a good novel, but then again, writers will know that composing these first lines is much more enchanting.
I have unofficially been "writing books" since I was about 10. Of course, I will give it to myself that I have come quite a ways from the nonsensical, unfinished story plots I dreamed up years ago, but as I was looking through some of my old stories that I had written long ago, there was a childlike interest that was suddenly sparked. Somehow before I knew it I was scrolling down to the next page, and the next, eager to see what happened next and grinning like a geek. Of course, my writing style was very simple and a bit repetitive; nowhere close to the thrilling classics of Austen, Dickens, or Bronte. Either way, I am prepared, and quite willing, to share with you some snippets of past stories so that you can see what once lived in the mind of a tomboyish, adventure-craving, daydreaming, twelve year old.
This first story was about a young girl in the Colonial time period who came across a mysterious black ghost horse on the banks of an island. This excerpt is from one of the chapters towards the middle of the book...
Storm clouds gathered. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Hattie slid out of bed and got dressed in the dark. She grabbed her boots and silently tip toed down the wide stairs. At the door, she slid the squeaky boots on and pushed open the back door. The path to the barn was damp and the dirt stuck to Hattie's boots. When she reached the barn, she took Snowy from her stall and tacked her. Riding out to the barnyard, she went through the front gate and down to Nelly's house's gate. Nelly was coming to the gate on Defender already.
Without a word, both girls went down the street and crossed over to the dock. They rode along the line of dark, creaking ships and entered the forest.
There, the pine tree branches were thick and they swatted the horses and riders. The woods were always mysterious to Hattie, but tonight, they felt even more mysterious. Hattie felt that there was something else in the woods with them; some strange presence loomed around her.
Defender snorted. Snowy whinnied. The horses danced in circles and wouldn't press forward. This was the same spot that they had acted up before. And it wasn't just Defender and Shadow that had the problem, because Snowy was shying too.
Thunder split through the forest and lighting lit the sky. Freezing rain started pouring down in buckets.
Nelly looked at Hattie.
"We have to keep looking!" shouted Hattie over the roar of the storm. At least it wasn't as bad when they were in the shelter of the trees. Snowy whinnied fiercely and Defender reared. The horses couldn't move forward.
Suddenly, and shrill whinny pierced through the storm. The girls looked up a hill, the direction from which the whinny had come. A shiver ran down Hattie's spine. There, on the hill was a huge black horse. His black coat shone wet with rain. The horse whinnied a long, echoing, sad whinny. He reared tall, his hooves plucking the air.
And then, before they knew it, the apparition disappeared like a breath of mist.
The two girls and two horses stood in awed silence even after the ghost horse disappeared.
"Do you think it could have been…" asked Nelly. Hattie nodded.
"It was Thunder," said Hattie.
Not too bad, I think. I did end up finishing that book. :)
And here are the opening words of the sequel to the above book...
Salty waves quietly washed ashore. The gentle breeze blew them in, and out, and in again. The pine trees rustled slightly, shaking off the night, and stretching their needles out into the salty ocean air. Birds woke and ruffled their wings. Squirrels scampered down the thick pine trunks to collect fallen acorns from nearby oaks. It was morning, dawning bright and new on the peninsula of Brunswick. A little pink starfish washed ashore and lay on the sand. The sun beat down apon it and it had no hope of returning to the cool ocean floor. But presently, a little slender shadow came over it and a cool hand picked it up. Two sparkling blue eyes looked at it closely and a mouth smiled down at it.
"You look like you're far from home," whispered a voice close to the starfish, and suddenly it was flying through the air and dropped down to the ocean floor to its cool home. But the slender shadow stayed ashore and watched the little bubbles at the top of the water as it sank. Then that shadow glided across the sand and joined a much bigger shadow, a shadow with long, lean legs and a thick neck and a flying mane and tail. The two shadows cantered softly on the waves washing ashore, gliding along together, then disappeared into the shadowy woods.
This next one I really liked. It was sort of a mix between Peter Pan and Treasure Island (two stories I adored at the time)
Janie reached the shed and peered in. She held up her candle and the light cast upon the coiled rope in the corner. She reached for it, snatched it, and hurried out the door as fast as she could. Brave first mate or not, she hated certain dark, spooky sheds. As she trotted across the yard, she saw a red glint out of the corner of her eye. She turned and walked over to it. Janie caught her breath. A ruby glistened amongst diamonds and emeralds that were encrusted in the handle of a razor sharp dagger. She dared her self to pick it up, holding it as if the slightest jounce would make it vanish. Carefully, she carried it over to the ship. Still lost in awe, she stood at the foot of the drawbridge; holding the knife.
"What's that?" exclaimed an awed voice above her. 6-year-old Jimmy was staring at it.
"What is all this?!" Johnny's harsh whisper broke the enchanting silence. But when he caught sight of the dagger, he stopped in his tracks.
"I could carry that in my belt as captain of the ship!" he said. But before Jimmy had a chance to argue the privilege, a strong hand snatched the dagger away from both of them. All three looked up at a tall, skinny teenaged boy wearing faded, loose fitting pants and a tattered white shirt.
"That's my knife. I need it to get back to the ship," the boy said.
"Who are you?" demanded Johnny.
"Williams. Thomas A. Williams." he said, "I come from Black Beard's pirate ship, way back in the Mediterranean."
Johnny looked the boy strait in the eye. "Than how'd you get here?" he asked. Thomas smiled. Then, he dug into his deep, spacious pocket. He pulled out a black bundle. Shaking it out, the children gaped in recognition as white crossbones unfolded before them.
"With this," said Thomas, "I can go anywhere I like." The three children sighed with envy and Jimmy piped up.
"Can we go back with you? To Black Beard's ship, I mean?" Thomas smiled as if he knew someone would ask.
"Of course," he said, "but you must believe. Trust this dagger and you can go anywhere with this flag."
"We all trust it! Right, men?" said Captain Johnny.
"Aye, aye! Cap'n!" said Janie and Jimmy.
"All right, then. I'll get on with the rules, shall I?" said Thomas. The tree bobbed their heads vigorously.
"No jumping while riding the flag. No shouting or screaming once we land; the pirates will take it as a battle call. Obey orders from the captain, Black Beard.-" Thomas went on and on until the children finally where told to back away. Thomas spread the flag on the ground.
"Climb on," he said. Johnny went first, then Jimmy, then Janie, then, lastly, Thomas. After they had seated themselves on the flag Thomas pulled out the dagger.
"But won't Mother miss us?" she asked.Thomas smiled. "Time stops once we're off the ground." Then, he thrust the dagger into the right eye of the flag, and they were off! Whizzing through the midnight sky, they could see all the mansions of Maple Avenue shrink out of sight. They soared past the high steeple of St. Michael's on to the ocean. After about twenty minutes of lightning speed, they could catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea. Flying closer, a small ship came into sight as they descended from the sky. They could hear the faint ringing of pirates singing…Yo ho ho! And a bottle of rum! Jimmy, Janie, and Johnny grinned at each other. Just like a book, they thought.
I will not plague you with any more, but I just really got a kick out of reading these little stories I wrote long ago. It reminded me how much I really do like to write, and how much fun it is to escape into your imagination and create a world of your own. It even motivates me to find time every day to work on my current historical fiction work, At the End of the Trail. It's easy to lose interest, and go through periods when every time you sit down to write you can barely eek out a few sentences and then you have to close it down because you're not making any sense. But looking back at things you wrote a while ago can really, somehow, encourage you to push forward and keep writing!