I love to write. I'm not kidding. It's something I've always done. When I was too young to read and write, I dictated to my mom and she would make little books for me. I illustrated. I told wild stories not to lie to people, but because they were so fun to make up. It was how I took a world that I had so little control over and made it my own. When I was in middle school, I created a language with its own writing system and grammatical structure and built a world around it. Then I picked up Tolkien for the first time in early high school, felt silly for my attempts, and redid it so that it made more sense. Then I scrapped it. About seven times. That world (whatever it was called) still lives in a system of floppy discs and notebooks somewhere in my attic. It is one of many worlds I've made and discarded. There are tons of short stories and poems up there, too, and I'd like to think that they all keep each other company.
Fact is, I love making stories.
It's not something that I entertained doing for a living once I was past the age of eleven. I'm not sure why, exactly. I probably thought of it in the same way that I now think of the art I sometimes create: Fun, and good enough for myself, but not really sufficient to earn me money. Not in the way that being a marine biologist or National Geographic photographer would be (note: I'm 25, have my AA in studio art, and work in a photo lab; not glamorous, but I thoroughly enjoy it and it does pay well).
So when I started on my current project, I had good reason to expect that I would play around with it for a while, get bored or irritated with it, and stash it away in my laptop's hard drive, never to be heard from again. And for a year or two, I did, and it wasn't.
Last October, I stumbled upon a forgotten Word document which outlined several characters. I liked them. One is the "typical warrior", only he isn't actually any good at warrior-y stuff and really doesn't fit the bill except in the way he looks and the way people treat him, to his frustration. Another gentleman rescues him (here it's fuzzy; from what, exactly?)- a gentleman who should be more frightening than any monster, but who is polite and kind, if a little self-doubting. Then there is the bard- she gives the story context; she isn't so mixed up in herself that she can't understand what's going around her, and her intelligence and stability support her friends during their journey together (again; vague idea. Where were they going, and why?). There were other characters, too, but I tossed them aside for later.
I won't lie. That first draft was cringeworthy. I hadn't written anything that wasn't a college essay for several years and the language was stiff, the characters one-dimensional and predictable. I had no subtly. Worst of all, there wasn't really a story. I never finished that first draft. Near the time when I put it down, just the thought of someone else seeing the thing made me want to puke.
During that time, I also wrote a short story about a little boy walking around in the land of the dead. I was very fond of it. It was a million, billion times better than that book I'd started writing.
And then it occurred to me; The little boy is Rory. That's my story!
The ugly first draft was tucked away in a folder in the depths of my computer's cluttered hard drive, and I opened a fresh Word document. I called it The White Hart. From December to March, it was all that I did outside of my day job.
I actually finished it. 87,000 words. I'd never managed to finish something so vast before. And better yet; I didn't hate it. I still don't.
I have no illusions; I know that I'm still an amateur, stretching my writing-wings and testing them against the breeze. I'm rewriting that book right now, because it will be perfect before I begin sending it out to literary agents to be rejected. That's fine; while I'm sorting through rejection letters, I'll be working on the next two books in Hartsborn, and other projects too, I'm sure. I keep myself plenty busy. Eventually, I think it will pay off monetarily, but I'm happy enough to be obsessively doing what I love again with all the seriousness of the adult that I'm starting to suspect I might actually be.
Anyway, it seemed time that I fully came out of the writer's closet and shared a bit about what I've been doing, and why it's so important to me. I especially wanted to thank
for listening to me rant about this constantly, and to the ever-patient
for being the best editor, husband, and friend a neglectful, crazy writer could ask for.
Also, here's some awesome artwork based on Hartsborn that friends have created.
(I've also done some scribbling):