Welcome to this week’s extra post! It’s one from me! SURPRISE! I wanted to sit down and write today about how I started writing. It’s not exactly something I talk about a lot. People usually ask when, but they don’t ask where, how or why. So I’m here to explain it.
I was pretty young when I started writing. I was twelve years old and had really just discovered a world I didn’t know existed. Fanfiction. Lord of the Rings fanfiction to be exact. I had two best friends at the time, and we loved the movies and decided to check some of it out. WOW! Not what I had been expecting at all. I was thrusted into the world of slash fiction.
We decided, quickly, to write our own story. I’m sure it wasn’t my idea. I was the least readerly of the three of us, and I abhorred anything to do with books at the time. I was not the greatest language arts student. So we took on this task of writing ourselves into a LOTR fanfiction. It blew up. The thing is over 300 pages, single spaced. Each of us had our own story lines we got to chosen and write and then they wove together. Talk about amazing. And NO, it’s not posted anywhere.
We wrote and wrote and wrote, and I realized fairly quickly, that the process of writing itself was very cathartic to me. About two years after that, one friend had moved to a new state and another just wasn’t all that interested in being friends anymore. It wasn’t because of that, but I hit a massive depressive state. I don’t remember much from the age 14 to 15, but I do remember it being one of the darkest times in my life.
I was struggling with recurring flashbacks of sexual assault that happened to me when I was an infant and toddler. I was experimenting with cutting and burning and fast became addicted to the pain and coping mechanism. I wasn’t in a good place in my life or in a good state of mind.
I saw therapist after therapist, went to group counseling, and the only thing that remained consistent was my mother and my writing. I was always writing. I had a tiny blue notebook with completely blank and white paper, and I would fill it with poetry, shorts, and drawings (all of which, looking back now, suck, but that wasn’t the purpose of them). I filled page after page with the emotions I didn’t know how to express.
It was writing that got me through it.
In high school, after all the darkness and depression, we were charged with a senior project. Talk about the most annoying project on the face of the planet. Anyway, I chose to do my project on my writing. I wanted to publish a collection of everything I had done in the past few years. Well… I figured out pretty quickly when looking on the publishing industry that publishing something in the span of 9 months that wasn’t already to go out to an agent just really wasn’t going to happen.
So I changed my project to me more a study of the publishing industry and the changes happening in it. At that time, small press publishers weren’t really around, but self-publishing was starting to take hold on the book industry. I compared a traditional publisher, vanity publisher and self-publishing. I can honestly say, the knowledge I gained from this project has helped me in the long run of being an author.
I stopped writing for a bit after that. Sure there were things here and there I would put down on paper, but I was mostly focused on school work and graduating from college. I went on an anti-depressant my sophomore year of college, and what I didn’t realize was the true effect it had on me.
I stopped writing.
Two whole years without it. In Graduate school, I went of the pill. For various reasons, but I had never intended to be on it long term. So I went off it, and a few months later, after the resulting depression wore off, it was like I was vomiting words. I can’t honestly tell you how much I wrote in that first year, but it was INSANE.
I started back with fanfiction, not quite sure I wanted to dive right back into original, but it took me maybe a year before the idea of writing an original fiction was back in my head. I started adding in original characters to my fanfiction as a way to practice writing my own characters and character development again.
Never completely finishing all my fanfiction stories, I dove into writing original. Since NaNoWriMo happens in November, and that’s usually somewhere near finals, I didn’t think it would be a great idea for me to participate. I was averaging about 40k words a month, but I didn’t want writing to affect my schooling.
So I waited until summer, and I did Camp NaNo on my own since I couldn’t participate in either June or August. July of 2012, I wrote my very first novel. I wrote it in something like 19 days. Talk about crazy. Of course, I spent about ten times the amount of that time on editing the thing, but it was written and I had something to work with.
Now, since I was that lonely child in high school writing poetry in the back of the classroom, I’d always dreamed of being a published author. I had given up that dream, thinking I would never be good enough and that my career was headed in a different direction. Well, I guess not. Because here I am, published and still publishing.