I was just reading a post on a favorite blog about an author’s voice…and how it may, or may not, change as the author matures and becomes more fine-tuned.
So here’s an experiment. Me, posting a bunch of excerpts from various times in my life. Let’s see how things have changed. All spelling and punctuation non-corrected. In rough chronological order:
On Monday I played and played in the snow. I made a huge snowpile. I made tunnels in it. I called them secret passageways. It was so cool. I loved it. On Tuesday I played with it again. But this time I brought out my plastic doll stuff. I made them the furniture. I threw snowballs. I wished I had more days off from school.
* * *
April 15, 1996
Everyone was coming. All of Kit’s relatives, her children, grand children, and three great-grandchildren. The family always gathered for New Year’s and Christmas and Thanksgiving and some Easter Sundays too.
But they also gathered on April 15. Then Kit could tell why. Her brother and sister had died on this date 84 years ago. In 1912. She would always serve a basic meal. “Things we ate for 5 or 4 days in 1912” and then she would tell her truthful account of her reason for everyone gathering on a basic meaningless day to everyone else. “Why are we here, great-gran?” asked little Molly Nolan. “Well child it was something that happened to me a long, long time ago…In 1912…” Kit gestured to her thousands of black’n’white photos. “That was my oldest brother Frankie and my sister Annie-“
Kit stopped, “He was my other brother, Jack.” she said carelessly. “This was taken in 1911, before us four left New York to visit Ireland and relatives…” Cory asked “Great-gran, isn’t today the day in 1912 the ship Titanic crashed?” Kit nodded “Yes, in fact that’s what my story is about…”
8th grade (?) :
I will never forget the last time I was in Lyton. It’s ingrained in my memory. The last time I was in Lyton-god, I remember the exact moment like it was yesterday instead of five years ago.
It was April, 2001, and it was raining like hell. I remember being absolutely soaking wet, my clothes and hair all sticking to my body. I was wearing a gray tanktop, blue jeans, and sneakers that I threw out afterwards and never wore again. I was stalking down the sidewalk of York Street, the shopping district, in a rage and also, at the same time, paralyzed with grief.
My brother, Andy, was running after me. His longer legs allowed him to catch up to me faster than I was running away from him. His hand grabbed me by the elbow and I shoved him away from me. I continued walking determinedly, though I had no clue where to go. I only had the clothes on my back, a bracelet, necklace, five bucks and my house keys in my pockets.
“Amanda!” he hollered. I must’ve really pissed him off. Very few people ever called me by my real name, Amanda. Nearly everybody called me by my childhood nickname, “Lucky.” Andy was one of those people. I didn’t even think he knew what my real name was. “Amanda! Yo! God dammit! Amanda!” I continued walking. He chased after me. “Lucky!” he shouted out. I came to a stop and turned around and faced him.
He stopped about two feet away from me. He knew that I had a good reason to kill him. He also knew that I would’ve tried to kill him if he came any closer. I looked him up and down. He looked pathetic. He was wearing a bandana on his head, a dark green one, and his white T-shirt was covered in blood. He was wearing loose, baggy jeans and expensive, stolen sneakers, the picture of ghetto fabulous.
“Don’t come any closer, you asshole!” I shouted at him. “Shut the hell up and leave me the fuck alone!” I walked backwards as I screamed at him. “I hate you, Andy! I hate you! I hate this damn town!” I turned my back towards him. “I hate this life! I hate this town and I sure as hell hate you! Leave me alone!”
I know perfectly well why I turned my back on my upbringing, family, friends and the only life I had ever known at the tender age of eighteen. I know why it was such an easy thing for me to do at the time. It was a genetic thing. It runs on my mother’s side of the family. Daughters run away and then end up miserable.
It’s right before the PSATs and my pencil is poised above the long, tedious form that has about twenty choices for a person’s race. I skip over them all, simply circling in the bubble for “other.” Some people can easily fit themselves into one race. I can’t. I’m two races, white and Asian. I’m a true other. I’m such an other that my features morph from Irish to Japanese within a matter of seconds. I walk down the street and Asian women look at me, trying to figure out if I’m one of them or not. I get stared at when I visit the suburbs, too. I think they’re trying to see if I’m white.
Why are the PSATs asking me this, anyway? Isn’t their job just to tell me how badly I’ll do on the SATs?
11th or 12th grade:
Amanda opened the door to the clean but stuffy room at exactly eight o’clock. Auditions would begin at nine. Amanda set her coffee cup down on the long table where she, her casting director (who also happened to be her assistant director), her producers and two studio executives would sit in judgement against some of the best actors Hollywood had to offer.
Amanda sat down just as the door opened again. She smiled and waved at her A.D/casting director Jessica, who entered looking just as uncharacteristically peppy as she did. Directing created adrenaline for them.
“Hey,” Jessica, sitting down beside Amanda at the table. “Are you ready for this?”
“Yes,” Amanda said, gripping the edges of the thick script. “And we thought they wouldn’t take a teenager-based flick.”
“So, who’s coming today?” Amanda asked. Jessica thought for a minute, failed to remember the names of Hollywood’s best, and pulled out her planner.
“I wrote it all down…where is it?…Oh, here it is,” Jessica said, paging through the book that contained her life. “Um…Josh Hartnett…he’s a little too old to play Jimmy, but we’ll see. Elijah Wood—can’t see him doing that either. Colin Farrell’s coming in for Steve…” Amanda whistled. “Yeah, I know. Oh, and…Orlando Bloom.” Amanda’s eyes opened wider and her mouth did, too. Jessica laughed. “I see that we’re still obsessed with Orli.”
Amanda blushed and sunk down in her chair. “Oh. My. God. Orlando Bloom’s auditioning for my movie? How is that possible?”
“He has an agent. We—well, you—have a really superior script,” Jessica grinned all of a sudden. “And we’re gonna make all those teachers who told us to ‘talk up’ pay.”
Amanda laughed. “Yeah. No one can spot it except us, Shari and Edie, but I based the teachers in here,” she said, pointing to the script, “on some of the meaner ones at FHHS.”
“I was just thinking…” Jessica started. “Well, okay, we’re casting for Jimmy first, right?” Amanda nodded. “Well, then, whose gonna do Grace’s lines or Jolie’s lines to Jimmy? I don’t think it’s fair to make actors read with monotone studio executives.”
“We should’ve cast for Grace first,” Amanda mumbled. “Oh, well. I guess I’ll do it. I wrote the damn thing, I know how to read it.”
“Besides,” Jessica added, eyes sparkling, “you’re the director. They’re just actors—what do they know?”
They both cracked up, stopped laughing, and then started up again until they had tears of laughter and giddiness running down their cheeks.