I often credit J.K. Rowling for being the reason that I became a writer, and I still find this to be true. Before I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I’d enjoyed reading and books, but never really thought of doing it myself. Before I decided to become a published author, I’d wanted to be an artist, a nurse, or a teacher. Even after I’d decided to become a writer I still toyed with other careers, because as pragmatic as I was I knew that writing books didn’t pay all of the bills.
That summer, I went to a camp at the local university on how to write picture books, and after a week of moderate study I was given a print out that said I was a ‘Certified Picture Book Author’ and I remember being so proud. During that week I wrote and illustrated a book titled “The Puppy and the Piano”, a moving piece about a puppy that was told it could not play the piano because it was not a human and then proved everyone wrong by learning how to and becoming famous.
Then, for a while, I was all talk and no action. I was, after all, in elementary school and learning long division was more important than writing the next great American novel. But I did read a lot and I spent much of my time imagining and creating worlds within my head. Toward the end of sixth grade, I learned about poetry and found that I also enjoyed writing it (although, looking back they all suck).
In middle school I picked up speed as I filled notebooks with emotional, angsty poetry and spent much of seventh grade writing my first ‘novel.’ It was basically a self-inserted Mary Sue type story where my friends and I fought bad guys, saved the world, and had magical powers too. In eighth grade I began writing my first fan fiction, a Mary Sue Naruto story, called “Akatsuki Heartbreaker” which is still online today. It was a beginning. Then, for a final project in my eighth grade English class, I wrote another novel—and this is where my story really starts.
Tastes Like Suicidal Tendencies was written in two frenzied months, printed out in the middle of the night, and handed off to my friends. I actually sold some copies on my own, and it made me feel like an actual writer. The story, in hindsight, was a darker knockoff of Twilight since the main character was a human who fell in love with a vampire and his family. It had a lot of the elements that I’ve come to find I enjoy writing—horribly enough, torture scenes. My teacher sent it to a writer at the university, who got back to me with a three page critique which tore my story apart. And while that may seem cruel, it was a gift, and I learned a lot from just those pages.
I entered high school and, novel put aside for the moment, I dove back into poetry. This time, however, my writing was better. I wrote about zombies, heartbreak, older boys who let you down, serial killers, nature, and those thoughts that crossed my mind in the middle of the night. I poured out my soul onto paper, and, thanks to that, I’ve always seen poetry as more of a therapy than narrative writing.
In the summer of 2010, my then boyfriend was in L.A. with his family and I was spending part of my holiday with my grandparents in the middle of nowhere. I decided that I wanted to start a new novel, a vampire novel that wasn’t Twilight, and so I started writing what would come to be known as Stained.
Instead of typing the story out as I’d done on all the books before, I resolutely wrote all of Stained out on paper and I still have the notebooks to prove it. Two and a half notebooks of vampires, religion, and politics and it came to a close in December 2012, when I used my Senior Project as an excuse to finish it. I edited and revised and presented Stained 2.0 as my product, and had several friends and people read it for me. Most seemed to enjoy it, but, as always, there was more work to do.
Since 2012, I have edited and revised Stained six more times. I’m currently on the eighth revision, and—while a lot of it is recognizable from that first handwritten draft—it’s different. I have learned so much in the classes I’ve taken and the people that I’ve talked to that I developed a new story out of the old one, and learned how to make something that people would hopefully want to read.
But timing is everything. Even by the time that I finished the first draft the vampire market was dying, and as of now no one really wants to read about my favorite bloodsuckers. Now it’s all about terminal diseases and lovesick teenagers. Still, I carry on with this noble quest of mine to get this novel out there.
Last summer, in this rut of no one wanting to read my vampire novel, I started writing a more commercial story–inspired by the writing of Sarah Dessen. I titled it The Summer We Fell and decided that this would be the type of book I’d actually want my mom to read. I got five chapters in, and then school started up and I was lost. However, I intend to finish it this year and will be working on it this summer.
Throughout high school and college, I also worked on fan fiction. I started a lot of stories, but, to date, I’ve only finished one actual narrative. I started work on Know the Perils in March of 2012, and it was one of the things that helped me get over a bad break-up. I dove into the world that I’d grown up with and loved with new eyes, because I’d always been afraid to put my fingers into J.K. Rowling’s writing. I felt that I couldn’t do justice to her characters or her world, but once I realized that was fine and that I could put my own spin on it I stopped freaking out and just wrote. I followed the novels as closely as possible and, 96 chapters later, I finished it in December of 2013. To give you an idea of length—Know the Perils is equivalent to at least three novels. Could I have spent that time writing my own work? Sure, but I learned just as much from mimicking J.K. Rowling’s pace, style, and form than I could’ve from writing and revising my own stuff.
As I said in my About Me, I’ve also been blogging for a long time, but it wasn’t until college that I got serious about it. I’ve learned a lot about myself and people from that, and I feel that it’s helped some people get to know me better.
Do I know for sure if I’m going to make it as a writer? No, but I’ll keep trying.
I’ve wanted this for thirteen years, and whatever setbacks I have aren’t going to stop me from chasing after my dreams and pursuing my goals.
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