When I came across this review yesterday, I couldn’t help but smile. In case you didn’t follow that link (which you should), the book being reviewed is Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors. It’s a collection of early, and decidedly bad, writings from luminaries like Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, and A.J. Jacobs.
Early – and often enough bad – writings by great authors are inherently intriguing. By presenting otherwise exalted writers as, well, schlubs, these types of collections can humanize our literary heroes and make them more relatable and accessible.
I’ve not yet read Drivel, so for the time being my favorite early-writings collection remains George R.R. Martin’s Dreamsongs: Vol. I which traces his career from when he was literally a child up through some of his earliest published works.
Outside of the stories themselves, which grow from clichéd horror stories into well-developed character-driven narratives, there is the arc of Martin the author as he grows and changes from story to story. (I’m particularly enamored with ‘Sandkings’ from that collection – if you like sci-fi do yourself a favor: follow that link and read it.)
So cheers to the authors that agree to be in these collections and to showcase what is clearly not their strongest work. I’m sure it’s not done easily or lightly, but I think that sharing their humble beginnings is as good a way as any to give hope to writers in the early stages of their careers.