Reflections of a Former Teenage Writer

Star Trek: The Next Generation castI have a confession to make. I wrote a Star Trek novel. No, it never got published, but I wrote one. (Yes, I did send it to the publisher. It got rejected. I needed an agent.)

I unfortunately couldn’t find a copy of the full story, but I did find a chapter in my drawers of older writing material. According to the penciled-in date, I was 14 when I wrote it. At the end of the short chapter was a comment, most likely from my grade 9 English teacher, saying she couldn’t wait for the next instalment.

In my youth, I believed I wasn’t a good writer because I never won any writing awards. Sad way to spend your youth, really. That belief led me to stop my creative writing by the time I hit university.

Teachers wrote good comments and useful suggestions on my writing assignments all throughout my youth. If you parent or otherwise look after a budding young writer, really help them focus on those comments. Those are the ones that say, “I like this description!” or “What happened afterwards? You can add more details.” These comments don’t say, “You’re a good writer,” or “You’re a bad writer.” They simply help the student improve their craft. As I’d written about earlier, developing good writing generally doesn’t happen overnight: it requires practice. Help young, budding writers understand that. By listening to their teachers (assuming you have no huge issues with their teachers) and other mentors, they can improve their writing, not be paralyzed by it.

In case you’re interested, here’s a short excerpt (typos included) from my Star Trek novel. Laughing and groaning allowed.

[Data and Riker are in a turbolift.]

“Commander,” Data said. “What is it like going down on another planet, for diplomatic relations.”

Riker looked at Data, and thought back to a mission in which all he had to do was collect data from specialists on the planet, and big mix-up was caused.

“That depends, Data. If you’re thinking of a smooth-going one, I don’t know.”

“That was what I was thinking of, sir.”

2 thoughts on “Reflections of a Former Teenage Writer

  1. Love the excerpt from your story! I’m glad you shared it. I hope you’re finding your creative voice now–though I know fitting it in between family & work is a challenge. My grade 10 teacher brought Jean Little in to talk to her classes, and then Jean stayed in the room after school to talk to some of the keen writers. My teacher wanted me to come after school, but I was too scared to go and made up some excuse to leave. She was more positive about my writing than I was. Later I got to meet Jean Little and tell her the story about our missed first meeting. I don’t remember writing anything “creative” in school after grade 11. It was all ‘death by 5-paragraph essay’ after that. Sigh.

    • Well, the beauty was that you had a nice story to tell Jean Little when you finally did meet her! I had her sign one of her books after she gave a talk at the KPL.

      And I guess for me it was “death by 10-page essay” afterwards. Funny thing is, now I write 1500-1800 words for an article. A 10-page essay is about 2500 words. Not much more, and yet those papers became a massive undertaking for me each time I wrote one. Oh, the wisdom of getting older 🙂

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