First Words

“As a young child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous”
William Burroughs

I am reading First Words, a collection of the earliest writing from favorite contemporary authors, by Paul Mandelbaum. Most of the work presented is when the authors are teenagers, although there are several childhood writings that are very sweet. Many of the author’s teenage work reads raw talent. Poems by Margaret Atwood at 16 are much more sophisticated than my work today. Daunting. But you have to start somewhere…
Other than school reports I think my “first words” are long gone. But I typed many first words on a electric Smith Corona because I liked the way the typewriter keys clicked. Did you save any of your first words to show to your adoring fans when you become rich and famous?
The Writing Nag

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4 Replies to “First Words”

  1. With the exception of the first poem I wrote when I was about nine (about a guy waiting to be hanged and written in Scots – go figure) I’ve every poem I’ve ever written going back to when I was thirteen. I’ve also kept the same numbering system since then and should hit my 1000th poem this year.

  2. Well, I can’t compete with 1,000 poems, but I’ll always remember how it felt to have my haiku published in a national magazine when I was in the fifth grade.
    Sadly, I don’t remember what I wrote – I just remember that my teacher sent in two haikus and they didn’t choose the anti-war one. All I remember is the last line: “so bring our boys home!”

  3. Jim,
    1000 poems is very impressive, I’ll be lucky to write my 100th poem by the end of the year.

    Congrats on a publication in 5th grade that is very cool!

  4. Actually those saved works from junior high and high school were part of what got me writing again. I have almost nothing from that time (long story), but somehow I managed to hang on to those folders and notebooks through the years. That really pointed out just what’s important to me.

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