I could have done it on Friday, but I decided to leave meeting my word count goal for today, and I just did it! I decided a few months into the school year this year to set forth writing my first novel. This is a dream I have had since I was a kid and picked up my first Stephen King book. I was always a reader, but reading that book- Carrie – was unlike anything I had experienced before.
I was always into darker stuff than most kids. While most of the boys I knew wanted to read about sports, I preferred Bunnicula, or the Sideways School stories. Louis Sachar was, and is, a hero of mine. I haven’t ever been obsessive about his works, but there was something about the Sideways School books that began to unlock something within me. Reading Carrie fully unlocked it.
I started to make up worlds and stories, and then began to jot down ideas. I think a lot of what has shaped me as a person is how I started trying to imagine what other people’s daily lives were like. Not the parts that we all see, but what they are like when no one else is watching. I started to notice how the kids who seem so popular actually also seem to have a weight this popularity brings. I saw how they kid that never speaks and everyone ignores was also sitting there with a pen, drawing amazing pictures that no one else was going to bother asking to see.
I wish I could say that this led me to make friends with both the popular kids and the recluses, and maybe I did, but not like I probably could and should have.
Being different can be a burden. No one wants to feel like they are the only one who sees things the way they do. We all want to be part of something bigger, no matter how much we deny it and try to act a certain way that we know will be more socially acceptable.
So, I stopped writing as much. I didn’t want to be the artsy kid that didn’t have any friends.
As I grew up, I explored more forms of art. It began by a change encounter on a rainy day at camp. I wandered into a hidden door to the basement of the cafeteria to discover I was in the arts section of the camp. They were working with clay and there were only a few other kids in there with the teacher. He invited me to sit down and try to make something, so I did.
I ended up making a two-headed dragon that I proudly gave to my mother upon my return from camp.
I continued to try different forms of art after this. I tried painting, singing, playing saxophone, guitar, and more. I even managed to get the cool rocker kids that had a band of their own to let me join them. I mostly watched, not brave enough to really try to step up as the singer, but I loved every second of it.
There was a long period of time that I wanted to write movie scripts and do special effects in my own productions. As I continued to write, I saw how my style was more suited for longer form works. I’m not the best at dialog, but I can describe well. Even more than this, I feel like I have a good eye for what makes a good dramatic situation and a great empathy for all the people I create… even the bad ones. Maybe especially the bad ones.
I didn’t pursue writing with the passion that I really wanted to until college. Even then, I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I wanted to be a writer one day. I knew what I was producing at the time was just OK. It had potential, but I didn’t see how I could actually turn writing into a regular part of my life.
On the last day of college I was in my apartment looking at the collected works I had created in the various writing classes I took. I thought about all of those dreams of turning what I worked on into real novels. I never had love for the short story- It was always about the novel. As I looked at this work, that dream seemed to grow more and more distant. So I tossed it all into the trash and walked away.
You aren’t ever going to be a writer. You don’t have the skill, the patience, or the time. You have to go get a real job and pay real bills.
That was what I told myself as I threw my dream away.
I guess that is why I feel so happy as I come close to finishing this first draft of my first novel. I never thought I would actually do this. I wanted to, but didn’t think I actually would.
It’s not great yet. There are whiffs of greatness and the musk of a successful novel to it, but I still need to put a lot of work in to make it great. But, I did it.
I didn’t let my worry over certain sections not being perfect prevent me from finishing. I didn’t second guess myself and delete hours of work just because I didn’t feel like they were perfect. I didn’t get overwhelmed when my scope got too big, I just kept trudging on with the knowledge that I would have some serious editing to do after the draft was done.
When I dreamed about this as a kid, I always thought my book would be a lot like something Stephen King would write. What is amazing to me now, as I come close to finishing, is that this feels like a book Frank Anderson would write. I see myself in every decision and every line. When the plot moves, I know it is all happening to meet at a destination I began planning months ago.
I really wish I could go back in time and tell myself how very much my life would be like that. Maybe I didn’t understand every step of every path I took on this journey, but it all led me to a destination I imagined years ago, but never thought I was good enough to attain.