Do you remember how you felt when you got your first idea for a novel? Was it a lightning bolt of inspiration that jolted you into action? Or was it a dull cloudy day that you can barely even remember and you just kind of stumbled into it unintentionally?
When I wrote my first novel, I wasn’t particularly inspired by anything. I think it was summer. I remember telling my sister about it on a Saturday while we waited for our turn at the salon. I just wanted to try writing a book. As I was twelve, I’m sure you can imagine how great it is. 🙂 Being that I was reading a lot of teeny bopper romance at the time, it was, of course, a contemporary teeny bopper romance. It wasn’t even a genre I liked, but hey, gotta start somewhere!
Honestly, I wasn’t inspired to write anything in particular with the next bit of things I tried writing either. The second story I finished was about a crazy peasant girl who breaks into a museum to steal the crown of an evil queen. It gives her power which she uses to trap the current princess in the dungeon and take over her life. It’s a horrible story.
You might be thinking, “oh, that’s some crap unique.” It’s not. I was reading a truck load of historical romance novels at the time, along with an equally sizable load of teen paranormal fiction. Hence the historical-ish setting, the pauper and princess dynamics, and the crazy supernatural elements. The next two “novels” also have wannabe historical settings. But I was getting closer to finding something that thrilled me!
The third novel I finished – now, I felt a little something with this one! I felt driven. But I didn’t know how to harness this energy. It was about a two sisters and their cousin who go to visit the cousins on the other side of the family. It was a goth vs preppy kind of scenario. No one really won, and this holds the title for the worst and most abrupt ending ever.
After everything the “goth cousins” put the “preppy cousins” through – including, but not limited to, killing one of their fiances, their priest, and one of them! – the title character (who wasn’t even the main character – I had no less than five point of views) just forgives her crazy cousins and kicks them off of her fancy island. And I was 16 when I wrote this one!
Now, I’m not being super hard on myself. I can actually pick this story up and read it now (and I did a couple of years ago), and I was impressed! The formatting was some crap and hurt my eyes, but it was very entertaining, and I LOVE the “goth cousins.” They were a trip. In hindsight, I find the premise pretty fascinating. It’s the execution that did me in. But I had no idea what I was doing, so I forgive myself. ^_^
After this, I tried one more historical-ish setting (and failed) before deciding to try for something more contemporary. And this is where I have stayed, outside of a few instances of backstory and flashbacks.
I still wasn’t exactly “inspired” at this point. It was more me just following in the footsteps of my favorite author, and trying to do something I’ve never done before and experimenting mad scientist style with point of views and plot elements. It was all very chaotic. But I had a lot of fun.
It wasn’t until novel number 8, though, that things started to change. There was something different about this story. It wasn’t anything super dramatic. It wasn’t like time stopped and angels shook me. I didn’t feel any kind jolt. I felt like writing a story. I wrote it. Same as all the other times.
The only difference with this one is that after I finished it, I made an actual effort to improve my craft, instead of just, you know, hoping things would improve if I wrote enough stories. Things don’t work that way, apparently. 🙂
You might think, “Ooh, 8 novels! I bet things were looking pretty decent by now!” They absolutely were not. It was horrible, horrible, crap. I realized then that I had to do actual work if I wanted to improve, not just slap a story down on some paper (literally), but the amazing thing was, it was work I actually wanted to do! This is the first story I actually tried to edit.
Before, I’d do a standard, basic proofreading, then realize how terrible it was, and set it aside to “fix later.” But with number 8, I didn’t want to set it aside, I wanted to try and make something I wrote better! Looking back, this story is magical.
This is where the “practicing” stopped. This was when I decided that I had to go for it! It was time to get serious! I really wanted to try to be a bonafide writer! I felt something with this story. I still feel something when I think about it – an excitement, some kind of spark. I get literal chills, you know.
I think it’s important to remember why we started sometimes. Writing is hard. Not the typing part, the thinking part. Thinking up stories, crafting worlds, harnessing that creative energy and molding it into something other people can understand.
Sometimes I think to myself, “Maybe I should just quit this whole pie in the sky thing and get a sensible job as an assistant proofreader at a local newspaper.” After all, that’s something I’m really good at. But no, it’s PIE OR BUST!
Because nothing makes me feel more alive than I feel when I’m just thinking about a story that I’m crazy about. I’m not going to love every idea that comes to me, but I can’t live without the other ones. ^_^