Well, I had to go looking way way waaaaay back in time for this one! I mean, my own first words ever, I am told, were ‘Pop-pop’ and ‘Fench-Fy’…but I think this needs to relate to writing so here goes…
My first words related specifically to my current works were thus:
TEMPLE OF NANNA, CITY OF UR, 3 rd DYNASTY, SUMER, 2019 BCE
My name is Asharru. I am twelve years old, and my knees are sore. I have been kneeling on the stone steps at the foot of the temple for a very long time, while above me my mother recites the words that will formally dedicate me to the service of the Great Goddess Inanna, daughter of Nanna; god of the moon. For him our great city was named, and his daughter’s daughter I shall soon be.
After today I will begin my education. I will learn my letters, mathematics, and the history of my people and my city. I will learn the paths and stories of the stars and planets, the meanings hidden within all things, and, most importantly, I will learn the secret knowledge of the Anunnaki: our Divine teachers.’
That was the first version of the first bit of the prologue of ‘Blood & Sand – The First Book of Rue’. What it ended up as, as I learned to be a better writer, with the help of many wonderful people more experienced than I, is this:
TEMPLE OF NANNA, CITY OF UR, SUMER, 2025 BCE
My name is Asharru, and today I must be perfect. Because today I will be chosen.
The sun has yet to rise, but I have been awake for hours while priestesses bathed and anointed me with scented oils, plated my hair tightly to my scalp, then dressed me in new white linens.
My heart beats hard in my chest as I am led in silence to the steps of the temple, to stand with the other girls who have come of age.
The eastern sky grows pale as we wait, the Great Ziggurat looming above us, huge and dark against the growing dawn. It is more than a little frightening, knowing that soon I will ascend its steps, even though I know them better than most. Although I have never before climbed them— only those in the priesthood are allowed to—I have often run my hands along the lower edges, tracing my fingers across every dip and crack in the painted mud-brick and wondering what it would be like, when this day came. ‘
I’m pretty proud of that, actually. What was a somewhat distant and wordy, almost academic intro, became more personal, more intimate. Better. In my opinion, anyway.
That’s all for now – more to come soon!