The first story I wrote, I was probably about seven. I found a copy of it ages ago, five pages complete with poorly drawn art and a sentence or two on each page. It was about a princess who followed her cat out of the castle and discovered the cat had kittens, and it’s the clear representation of all that was near and dear to my heart at that age. When I was in fourth grade, I wrote my first chapter book about transportation to magical lands. I was deeply intrigued by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at that age and the idea of being able to vanish to new places while never leaving your home was all I wanted. In high school, I started churning out book after book. Vampire stories filled with awful grammar and plots that didn’t quite make sense but I loved that period. I felt I was truly coming into my own and discovering something about myself: I wanted to create for a living.
That desire stuck with me for the last 20 years and has appeared in bits and drabs. I wrote in writing rpgs, primarily, and I pursued English for undergrad and again, English with Creative Writing for a Master’s degree. I found that writing personal narratives made me feel deeply uncomfortable, it was a weakness, and I only felt a little bit skilled with writing fiction, so I began to force myself to write those narratives. I forced myself to explore my own thoughts and feelings and observances of the world, and I strengthened my writing, and grew comfortable with narratives.
But fiction, my first love, sat aside and grew dusty and gray. I was working full time, planning a wedding or a honeymoon or pregnant or doing graduate school outside of work. I had so little time for creative exploration in the fiction-writing sense. I wanted to write stories that felt unique and new, but I found my inspiration was always stunted, my plots always shriveled up, my writing always being saved and the document closed and never to be opened again.
The pandemic came and my priorities and time shifted, as it did with most people. I had already been out of work for a year as we moved states and had a baby. I just began applying for work again when all of the daycare facilities were ordered to close with no clarity of when they would open again. So we decided I would just stay home, we would make it work with one paycheck, and I would spend whatever free time I had working on the many creations I had long put off due to a busy schedule.
I learned how to hand letter, I wrote letters, I drew, I painted, I crocheted, I knitted, I sewed, and I taught myself embroidery. It wasn’t until Christmas 2021 that writing inspiration truly struck. A year prior, I had written a bit, but the story had fizzled out into a draft that may or may not be visited again. But this past Christmas something clicked into place. I had a story in my mind for years, long before the pandemic, before I became a mother, before I left my job. It was an inkling of a story that I could not truly figure out the plot to but the magic of Christmas, or perhaps the effect of binge watching Lord of the Rings in a 48 hour span of time, made my thoughts click into place.
I plotted out the story in a week, I began writing in the next, I wrote THE END in less than a month, I edited that draft twice over the course of a month and then sent the draft out to beta readers. It’s been a whirlwind of events these last four months. I began writing my new adult fantasy thinking “this could be it, this could be a story that interests others enough that i get representation, that I get published.” But years of half-starts and dried up creativity made me hesitant, I was worried my inspiration would die off halfway through writing the draft so I thought, “I’ll only focus on the pleasure of this current task and won’t think of the next step until I am done with this one.”
When I finished the draft, I thought “okay, I want to edit this,” and so I did.
When I finished editing, I thought “okay, this will benefit from reviews from others,” and so I sent it off to beta readers.
I gave my beta readers triple the length of time to read my work. Five weeks. And in those five weeks I’ve worked on world building, character naming, lore creation all to have on the back burner for when I go in and edit once again. All of this work and I realized that I’m ready, I know my next step, I know what I want to do.
I want to query for a literary agent.
Of course, I’m not there yet. My beta readers have a week and a half to finish reading, I’m going to be a beta reader for another author, and then–THEN–I’ll begin my own edits. They’ll be bigger than before, with more lore placed into the story, and once it’s complete I’ll send my book out for beta review one more time. Rinse and repeat, after that I’ll do any last fixings and then… query.
It’s been four months of working up to this moment and yet I’m finding myself somewhat stunned and feeling a case of whiplash. If you had asked me at the start of December if I would be looking for a literary agent during this year I would have laughed. Surely not, that’s not possible. A dream? Yes. Something I’ve always wanted? Yes. But no, that ship sailed, I am obviously not cut out to be a fiction writer like I thought.
Funny how wrong I was.
And this seems like the best lesson for me; dreams do not necessarily die, they can still happen and likely will when you least expect it. I doubt querying will be a ton of fun, I assume it will be hard work with a lot of disappointment, but at least I can say I’ve tried, and boy, I’m excited.