I’m sure I’m not the only writer who looks back on their past work and shudders.
Fortunately for me, everything I wrote as a fledgling writer has disappeared from the internet (along with everything else that was published by SEE Magazine). I still have copies of everything, in both PDF and actual paper – I was so excited to have my own wine column that every week I meticulously clipped out each of my columns and stuck them in a notebook. Yeah, nerdy.
But that book is also a pretty cool artifact now: a peek back into the initial stage of my journey as a writer, and a snapshot of a time when print media was still doing OK and Edmonton was able to support two alt-weekly papers and two mainstream papers, all owned by different people! I recently dug that book out of the basement and took a jaunt down memory lane.
The headline on my first column, published just over nine years ago on December 12, 2007, was: “You look like a Tempranillo to me.” It was a holiday wine gift guide, but with a twist: I paired wine with various people. Here’s a particular gem of a quote:
Buying for Uncle Leroy, your tinsel-draped, pissed by 4pm and staggering around the living room singing unintelligible, vaguely carol-like tunes like some unholy Christmas zombie, is a snap. Just buy something high in alcohol. Aim for Australian Shiraz, Napa Valley Zinfandel, or even a fortified wine, like Tawny Port. Ol’ Leroy will be bellowing “Hark The Harold Snowman Sings” while you get to finish off the bottle.
I had a major chip on my shoulder back then – I was out to prove that I was #edgy and cool and all that. It took me a while to figure out that snark is not equivalent to wit. It’s so transparent now that I cringe to read through those first couple years of writing. But hey – you have to start somewhere, right?
I think I also spent somewhere upwards of eight hours on that first column, agonizing over every word and going through five or six drafts before I finally sent it off to my editor. Thankfully I no longer take that long to write, or I don’t think I would have made it this far.
In honour of the Christmas season – not because I think you actually need to (or should) follow my nine-year-old wine advice – here’s my very first published article. Enjoy.