Perhaps the most exciting thing I’ve been doing in regards to my novel as of late is to actually think about it. Okay, I take that back. I think about writing SJL all. The friggin’. Time. What I really mean to say is now I’m actually sitting in front of a computer screen and words are actually forming. All together, now: Wooowwww!
I just realized that I haven’t really gotten into any of my history with my attempts at novel writing. I guess I’ll write an entry about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes.
The first time I set out to write a novel, I was about ten. It was a mystery novel featuring a kid detective. I still have it saved somewhere in my labyrinth of folders, one of the last remnants of my childhood works of fiction. I actually wrote a lot of stories about this girl and her friends, but this was the only one I was pushing toward novel length. I treasure it more than I could express. This is writing of mine from when writing was just an uncomplicated pleasure. I got about… *runs to check* 27,180 words and 144 pages in, double-spaced.
Then I got older, reread it, hated it, and stopped.
Okay, maybe “hated it” is a bit strong. “Outgrew it” might be more accurate. I still reread it for kicks. Most of it is amusing, but occasionally I surprise myself with a fairly interesting moment of descriptive language. I sit there and wonder, “How’d I learn to do that and when did I forget how?”
I found myself trying again when I was in middle school, around twelve. I gave up the formulaic mystery set up and aimed for an epic fantasy, chock full of some of the tastiest fantasy food groups: magic, a faraway kingdom with a corrupt royal family, a brave (and precognitive!) young female protagonist, a handsome prince, war, outlaws, badass evil-slaying swords, monsters, *throws arm over forehead and sways* oh, t’was a fantasy tale indeed. That one was 35,024 words and 107 pages long (smaller font?) double spaced, and nowhere near finished.
Then I got older, reread it, was embarrassed by my writing, and stopped.
And that made all the difference.
I had dramatically changed as a person and a writer by that point. By fourteen, I realized that I’d been writing it like a twelve year old. Which is understandable, considering the fact that I had at the time been, well, twelve. But at fourteen? *Pshaw* No. No, no, no. Wouldn’t tolerate it. And I don’t think I ever recovered from the shock of hearing my own writer’s voice for the first time. I think it sort of traumatized me, like I couldn’t trust myself with my own words, I couldn’t trust that I wasn’t making myself out to be… unskilled? Immature? I don’t know where to pinpoint that fear. It’s a scar I still bear today, as I sit around wondering all the time if my writing is simply good enough.
I told myself I’d come back to it when I was older, that I’d give my epic fantasy series another shot once I figured I was old enough to wield that kind of behemoth. I still haven’t gotten around to it, but that of course is due to two reasons: 1) I obviously have other projects on my plate, and 2) J.K. Rowling. She kind of had the fantasy thing on lock.
I’ve pretty much been thinking about my current endeavor since I was sixteen, and really working to write it since I was seventeen. I already know what you’re thinking. “Hm, well that sounds like a recipe for disaster. I mean, I’m sure you’ve changed by leaps and bounds from when you were seventeen.” I guess so. Still, this story has remained largely the same, and I don’t know if there’s a surefire way to tell if that’s a good thing or not.
For some reason, this project has been the hardest thing I’ve ever put my mind to– other than your typical math class, but that’s another story *cue lame ass rim shot*. With my previous attempt, I discovered the humbling truth: that absolutely anything I’ve written at any given time is susceptible to being completely, tragically flawed. It might be due to lack of skill (which I may or may not be able to help), or it might be a manifestation of my naivete (which I could never help on my own accord). Either way, it’s possible, and I worry about it even as I type this sentence.
What about your fanfiction, you ask? Well actually, maybe you don’t ask that at all, but it’s something worth mentioning. For one reason or another, my fanfics are some of my most complete work. Strange, but true. I think it might be because the pressure’s off when I’m writing fics—it doesn’t have to be anything, it doesn’t have to be finished by any particular point in time, or at all if I so choose. I play around with chronology and get creative with the way I present information to the reader. I have fun with my interpretation of an already established character, or real life person. I incorporate real life places and events. It’s a really relaxing way to write. One of them, as I’ve mentioned, is even novel-length already.
It seems kind of a waste to just write them and leave them to sit aimlessly on my computer, so I’ve done some thinking about what I might do with them once I have a hefty-enough number of them. I might collect them, rework some surnames here or there (to remove the fandomy elements), and treat them as a collection of short stories. Or since they’re so long, treat them as individual novellas. I’m not really sure what I might do with them, but I’ll type along, and I’ll find out soon enough.