I started my first manuscript when I was 15.
(Come now, you know I was going to squeeze in a Taylor Swift gif somehow)
It was a high school romance about a handsome popular football star who bets he can make the bookish handicapped girl fall in love with him, then ends up falling for her for real. The heroine’s name was Nathalie and she just so happened to suffer from the same condition I did. The guy was called Matt, a name I always found inexplicably attractive. (Incidentally, a few couple years later, I’d name the male protagonist of another manuscript Matt, but that’s another story.) Nathalie’s BFFs were homonyms of my then best friend’s names and bore a striking resemblance to their real physical appearance.
As you can tell, Bittersweet (its title) wasn’t wish fulfillment of self-inserty at all.
Yeah, I have no idea how I typed that with a straight face. It was crap. Complete total undiluted shit on paper.
This is not false modesty. Take a look at a line I wrote for a romantic scene:
“Green flames flickered behind peach curtains.”
Let me save you the torture of guessing—I was describing eyes.
I never finished Bittersweet, thank God. I dickered around with several out of sequence chapters, got bored and went back to writing Naruto fanfiction.
Not that it was much better either, mind you. My point is we all have skeletons in our closets. Overblown, violet sentences we pray to Christ above never crawl out of the seething turgid mess that is the Internet and/or our hard drives.
We improve. We strive to do better. I reread my old stuff sometimes for kicks, or simply to remind myself to never fucking ever describe eyelids as “peach curtains” again.