In WordPress’s Writing 101 day 20. we are asked the following:
Tell us the story of your most-prized possession. Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.
In light of the past couple of months, it might seem that I am obligated to write about my family. I could go on about back-to school excitement and the dismay of living in the hottest of states, where you’re more at risk of heat exhaustion while trying to entertain bored children outdoors than you are of getting your purse snatched. …Well, perhaps not literally, but the heat out here is ridiculous!!!! Indeed, so the heat is so insane that I can no longer obey standard punctuation rules and have let loose an army of exclamation marks. For shame!
At the same time, this is not a parenting blog, and I do not need to prove that I love my family by constantly writing about them. Everyone loves their family (unless, by chance, they can’t stand them and they’ve had nothing but grief together, but enough of real-life family drama). Hey, calm down, narcissism, I still have you covered. I have something important to me besides my family. Can you guess what it is? It’s been a part of my life for much longer than these silly creatures with whom I co-habitate in this house.
Yes, in fact, it is my book! I’ve been wanting to write a fantasy for as long as I can remember. When my sixth-grade teacher told my class that we’d be writing a book, I was thrilled– until he told us that each chapter would have certain prompts. Still, I enjoyed the project. It wasn’t fantasy, but I got to write, and I have wanted to keep writing ever since. In seventh and eighth grades, I probably did as much reading as I did writing. It might not have been a rare youthful success, like Hinton’s Outsiders was, but the important thing was that I kept writing.
Every time I went back to read what I had written so far, I would change things just a little bit. After all, a good editor is willing to revise. As I matured, and learned things, I changed the details to be more realistic (haha, a realistic fantasy novel? You know very well that I mean the removal of certain …holes in physics). Then character names changed, plots expanded, histories developed. I went from one book to two, and now I am at three, with ideas taking root for a fourth (it’s going to be out of this world).
Back when I first started, it was the rebellion, and the tyrant was called by a different name. His son still works to quell that rebellion and lead the knights, but that prince has much more of a back story now. He is no longer just a mindless sort of warlord figure. He has motives and emotions… powerful emotions. The rebellion is the crux of what is now Book Three, but I could not stop there. I had to write Book One to explain how that tyrant had even come to be, and at first it was actually going to be a prequel. Then I got over it and decided to simply put it all in order.
Book Two was a much more recent development, but one that I could not leave out. I used to think that it would be short, just a bridge between One and Two, a short explanation of how Zarrek ends up– oh, you didn’t think I would give away too much, did you? For shame! As I started to work on Book Two, I realized that Zarrek’s passions were too complicated for a novella. He cannot be explained away in too few words. And there he is, now, aching with loss and heartache and… the possibility of love… waiting for me to get back to work.
I always kept a notebook on me for my novel. Middle school, high school, wherever I was. If I wasn’t writing, I was reading; not always my own work, but usually something fantasy. In all that time, I still managed to get my school-work done and see my friends and play my RPGs. I suppose that is partly why it has taken me so long! It has been for the best though, because I have been able to develop things. In college, I switch to keeping a disk on me so that I could more easily edit. I would go to the computer lab between classes, when it wasn’t practical to leave campus, and keep on writing. Nowadays, if I wasn’t done with college, I could just use a USB drive. Oh how technology grows!
So yes… my novel really is my life’s great work. An opus? I don’t know. A grand fantasy? Definitely. The next big hit? I never can decide whether I should fear popularity for all of its marketing and controversy, or love it. I don’t even know whether to care about the dollar signs; I just want my story to be enjoyed. I want fellow fantasy enthusiasts to be engrossed in the pages, caught up in the history of Loracaz, curious about what becomes of Prince Zarrek. Will my readers wonder what happens to Liriel? Would they even like a character like Shu-Giri? Pffft– will I even have readers?
I keep writing anyway, because I love my world, my characters, and the circumstances that they get caught up in. I love my fantasy.