Ten Years Later: A Writer's Tale

17 06 2010

Ten years ago, I sat down before my 486 computer. It was an older computer that looked remarkably similar to this one, but with fewer bells and whistles. I don’t remember it having a CD ROM, but when your previous computer was an 8088, you were in no position to complain. Both were gifts from my dad and my uncle(s) who knew I needed to stop killing the rain forests with my compulsive writing. It was an outlet for my creativity where I could save my work and spell check all in one convenient location.

Ten years ago, I was working on a story. It didn’t have a name… or much of a plot for that matter. The story itself was foolish and going nowhere. I was frustrated with its progress, irritated with my so-called plot, and flat-out unhappy with my work as a writer. I was only 17 at the time, but I had been writing for a few years at this point. I’d already written several novel-length stories as well as countless poems, essays, and short stories.

Ten years ago, I gave up for the very first time on a story. I still have my hand-written notes for this story. I’m pretty sure I still have a small segment laying around from the story itself. Maybe–just maybe–I still have the entire story itself on an old disk somewhere. The problem is that my old works are either on 5 1/4″ or 3 1/2″ floppy disks. One could say I never truly gave up on this story if I’ve kept it this long, but that’s neither here nor there.

Ten years ago, I sat down in front of my old 486 and opened a new document. It was a clean slate to begin a new story. I didn’t know what my new story would be. I didn’t know who it would be about. I had no idea what these people would do. I didn’t even have names for these people. So I paused for a moment and three names came to me:

Raven, Jade, and Alexander.

From that moment on, my life changed forever. I began writing a story about these three people. It would be a story of epic proportions. There was an unjust government, a tyrannical leader, secret double-lives, and most importantly to my 17-year-old mind… love.

I wrote obsessively every single day. When I wasn’t typing away on my computer, I was jotting down notes in the back of my math notebook or passing notes with a friend regarding my latest details of the story of Raven, Jade, and Alexander. I researched the library and my own schoolbooks for various sources of information so that I could create my own species within the story. I obsessed over pictures I found in my Humanities class that resembled my characters. I ate, slept, and breathed the story I began calling “my Jade story.”

Visits with my mom brought bittersweet sorrow. For an entire weekend during the school year and an entire week in the summer, I had to leave my story behind at my dad’s house. It was too much of a hassle to pack my computer to and fro, so I had to do without.

My mom, like my dad and uncle(s), also loves to fuel the hobbies of her children. She and another uncle found a word processor at a yard sale in the winter of 2000. They brought it to me, and I was speechless. I could finally write my story no matter where I was. With the help of my disks, I could take my story between visitations.

(clicky!)

Thus, my complete and total obsession with my “Jade story” was complete. By the time I left for college in 2002, I had over 200 printed pages for my story, countless pages of notes, and several poorly drawn illustrations. I kept my treasured story inside my ancient purple folder that has been with me since middle school. My purple folder is like the arc of the covenant for my story… it contains everything that is related to my story, my story that’s pretty much my life’s work.

College, however, was not a good time for me to write, especially in my early years. My life changed greatly, and I had some very “uninspiring” people in my life who brought me down. I stopped writing. Sometimes I doodled or thought about my story, but for the most part, I lost that part of my life. My “Jade story” went into hibernation.

One day, I became inspired. I wrote a prologue, but not to my previous story. This would be a new story with new characters. With this prologue, Sadie was born along with a whole new world of ideas. Putting those ideas into words, however, were far more difficult. It had been so long since I’d written anything, plus with my new studies as an English major, I began to realize just how much I lacked as a writer. I became my own worst enemy. I became my own critic.

My story continued to hibernate until 2005 when another brainchild was born. His name was Jace. He and his companion, Jimi, brought about new life and new reason to this new story. For the first time since 2003, I began writing again. Most of my drafts were immediately deleted or rewritten in time. It didn’t matter. I was exercising my long forgotten creative muscles. After the train wreck my life had become, I needed this exercise… my “creative physical therapy.”

However, 2005 brought even more changes into my life, and once again, my writing went onto the back burner. I continued writing in my head, painting mental portraits of my characters and getting to know them. How could I tell their story if I didn’t know these new characters? I found images online to help me visualize their faces and continued thinking, thinking, forever thinking. I destroyed my 200 printed pages and a large portion of notes. My story was no longer satisfactory. I couldn’t work with it anymore and sculpt it into something better. I needed a new beginning.

And now, the present.

An online friend caught wind of my story. She has talked with me about it. She’s brought fresh light into my head and inspired a domino effect of ideas. Things have changed so much in the last ten years. I’ve changed both as a person and as a writer. She helped me see that.

I’ve started carrying a composition book with me wherever I go. No matter where I go, I have the opportunity to write. I’m “getting back to basics,” as they say. There’s something wonderful about seeing my ideas go from my mind, through my hand, and onto paper once more. It’s almost magical.

Several weeks ago, I began writing what I’ve dubbed “Dee’s Tale,” which is basically a short story about one of my characters. Once upon a time ago, when my story was first created, Dee was a minor character. Over the years, she’s evolved into so much more than just comic relief. She’s become a main character. She has a history, a personality, and depth. She has a purpose. This story gets inside her head and shows you who Dee really is and why she will later become the woman she will be in my story. I plan on writing a Tale for each main character.

Over the last ten years, my story has gone from a barely coherent story lacking direction to an entire world built inside my mind. I know all of my characters personally. I know where they came from. I know their fears and their hopes. I even know their favorite foods. I know all about their lives before the story begins.

I know this all sounds more than a little crazy. In fact, some of you are probably starting to question my sanity. Yet I can’t help but wonder if this is how Stephen King felt when he set out to write The Gunslinger and the rest of The Dark Tower series. It took him about twelve years to write the first book. I wonder if this is how he felt about Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Susannah.

After ten years of creating these people and this world, I feel as though it’s time I finally put this world, these characters, this story onto paper. Even if my story is never published or even viewed by anyone other than myself, I think the time has finally come. It is time to write my story at long last. If it takes me the rest of my life, I will finish it.

Today, I am sitting before my Gateway DX series with another clean slate. Today, new names join my original cast of characters. Today, I have four other names:

Sadie, Jace, Deidra, and Jimi.

No story has been abandoned. A story will be remodeled. It is getting a fresh start at last. My characters will finally get a story worthy of being told. Today is the first day of my life’s work in progress.

(clicky!)

Art that reminds me of Sadie. This art was by a deviantART artist named Dark-Spider.

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