For the last few days, I have found myself reminiscing over how my journey into writing all began. If I think about it, I have always made up stories. As a child, I would spend hours with a tape recorder making up plays for my Barbies to act out. Yes, I’m really that old. Shame my mother still doesn’t have those tapes. There were probably some real gems on them.
In my teen years, I kept a diary. I still have that, and you don’t want to know the melodrama in that one. I even had this brilliant idea of keeping pregnancy diaries, filled with wonderful insights for my children as they were growing up. I got a little sidetracked and never kept up those.
I wrote poems and lyrics to songs in my late teens, early twenties, and spent far too many hours hiding from the real world in the bowels of a dark theatre somewhere, often on-stage singing and dancing. However, my road into writing fiction really started when I was studying for my PhD. It all started with a dream in 2008.
My PhD is in astronomical instrumentation, and night after night, I struggled to find a way to quiet my brain enough so I could sleep. One night, I had this dream in which a young magician was selected to join her powers with an ancient hidden source known as Espada. Just as she touched the stone with the power, she collapsed, screaming for the Master to help her, screaming for Derek to help her. That was all I got—but I was so captivated by the story that when I woke up, I chose to write down what I could remember.
The original concept was a single piece of paper.
The next night, my brain latched onto the story again and more was revealed. Again, when I awoke, I wrote more of it down. More and more came to me night after night, and for the first time in months I was able to actually sleep. It did wonders for my concentration and my relationship with my family.
So instead of writing on loose bits of paper, I picked up an A5 spiral bound notebook and started writing my thoughts in there. Ironically, I discovered years later that my idea of using a notebook is the one techniques that all writers can agree upon. A writer carries a notebook with them everywhere they go. Me… Sometimes I carry three.
Anyway, I wrote while on the bus, with my preschool-aged daughter sitting in my lap. I wrote every night before going to bed. I wrote while eating breakfast. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading what I had written the day before, my mind totally engrossed in the story that my subconscious was creating.
The only time that I wasn’t writing was when I was sitting at my computer (at home or at my desk at the university). My computer was not a writer’s tool at that point. It was the evil beast that I’d fight day after day, trying to analyse mountains of data, slaying insurmountable lines of code. There was no way I was going to put my beloved story onto the monster that I was tempted to throw into the pool to see if it would drown.
For for nearly two years, I did all my writing into A5 spiral bound notebooks, creating a story with these characters that I had come to love. I knew their sorrows and their hates. I understood their weaknesses and I admired their strengths. All the while, I was able to sleep and dream about something other than the dreaded beast known as the PhD.
In late 2009, after the PhD had been submitted and examined, I decided to transfer the eight notebooks I had into the computer, just to see what I actually had. I was floored. When I compiled my, then, Latex files of the story into a PDF document, I had near on 10,000 A4 pages of 12pt single-spaced writing. I gave some of them to one of my supervisors from my PhD, one who I knew loved reading fantasy, and asked for her opinion. She only had one response. “You need to finish writing this. I want to know more. It’s a world filled with potential.”
That was all the incentive that I needed. So I kept writing, sometimes in my A5 notebooks, and sometimes directly into the computer. I created a journey, and asked myself questions along the way. The world continued to evolve, and more characters developed that I came to know and love. I had my bad guys and they had their army, so came the army for my good guys and the characters associated with it.
Every day I wrote more, and the world of the Signs, the Bleeders and the Shadows was born.
Then I made the one mistake that no writer should ever do. I gave it to my family and friends to read.
I had expected honesty and constructive criticism on how to improve. What I got was ego stroking and the identification of only minor mistakes. But being the new writer that I was, I had no idea that their comments were not of any use—until my husband finally read the book in April of 2013.
Now, not everyone will have a husband like mine. I love him dearly, and mainly because he tells it like it is. If he thinks things are full of crap, he’ll tell you—and he did. His only comment was, and I quote, “Your fight scenes suck.” Geez, can anyone be more blunt?
After the initial shock, he was able to help me see the glaring plot holes that desperately needed to be plugged. So I went back to the drawing board and totally rewrote my story.
Two years later, and I have no idea how many drafts along the way, I now start down the road which I believe will be much harder than writing the book: finding an agent and a publisher. I’m terrified and excited all at once. It’s a road filled with dark creatures who could easily chew me up and spit me out, all before breakfast. But this is something that I really want, so I’m refusing to take No for an answer. All I need is one Yes.
To paraphrase Lily Tomlin from the movie 9to5, “I’m a tree, I can bend.” However, I just hope that all the dogs don’t pee all over me.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2015