On the weekend I was telling someone, sitting around a campfire in rural Victoria surrounded by the bush with only the stars to witness, that I had no idea where to begin for my first blog post on my very own author page. She said, as you might expect, at the beginning; when and why did I want to become an author, how did I get started? Which was obvious, except I didn’t want to start there.
I didn’t want to bore you with my dreams as a three year old of being a Disney princess. I didn’t want you to pity me when I talked about how bullies in high school tore up the first book I had laboriously handwritten for a year. I didn’t want to talk about the novels I’d written before that I’d lost thanks to hard drive failures and lost USB sticks, or worse, stories I knew were really, really terrible. Telling you to feel sorry for me wasn’t how I wanted to start this.
So instead I’ll start with the Last Prophecy; the story that, after a time, I felt was good enough.
It began in a moment last year, where I just needed to write, to start work on a new story; new genre, new characters, new worlds. This was without the intention to publish, but solely to write for the fun of it. It took a lot of mindless internet image searching and a few random generators to push me along for inspiration and then I found myself writing a great story.
It was gripping, detailed, fantastic and nothing like anything I’d written before. I couldn’t stop writing it, the entire story, beginning to end, was there before me, and it had all the things I loved. Airships and adventure, hidden agenda’s and things that went bump in the night. The detail and intricacy and vivid desert landscapes scenes my mind’s eye was creating was inspiring and fun. And then I ran into a problem. This wasn’t the first story in this series. I backtracked with the main character, went over details of where that first story would end up, and standing back realised this was far greater than anything I’d done before. So I stopped writing it.
Taking my trusty journal I started to pen in the bits that were missing, there was a several books that took place before the one I was writing, and several more after. The character’s destinies seemed completely out of my control as their lives interwove with others, all different people living different lives, not even aware the effect the actions in one story would ripple across to affect someone else. Through many scribbled notes and 3am dreams I finally penciled in the outline of Last Prophecy.
I moved on to what I knew the first novella was; The Hidden Monastery.
It was fun to write and the characters were interesting, and like that first book, it was nothing like I’d written before, but it started to become like nothing I’d read before either. I’m an avid reader and I combed through various books online looking for something similar, and found nothing I liked. So I kept writing.
Hidden Monastery was finished very early in the year of 2015, which became over time, one of the worst years of my life. My partner and I went through several personal medical problems, there was sickness and death within our family. There were too many times we knew it wasn’t going to get better, and there was so little we would take away from this year that made us happy.
The silver lining on our clouds was that my husband found his dream job, and it was clear he couldn’t have been happier. It was something for us both to take away in the darker times of this year. And I was happy for him, ecstatic at his newfound enthusiasm for his career. Before I then felt left behind.
Because I wasn’t happy.
It would be wrong to say I wasn’t satisfied, I had a good job, good friends, a man I couldn’t live without and my life was ambling along nicely. But in the face of our personal trials I had to admit to myself I was satisfied; but I wasn’t happy, mostly with myself. I wasn’t doing things I loved, and I felt so frustrated because I knew I loved to write.
I’d asked myself over and over what do you want to do with your life, and I’d always answered that I wanted to be a storyteller. I wanted my place by the fireside, I wanted people to read my books and ask me what happened next. The doubts that had plagued me all my life; who’d publish what I wrote? Who’d even be interested in reading it? Did I even have a story I thought was good enough? They were all insurmountable. How could such a ludicrous dream be brought to reality? I had inspiring quotes from all my favourite authors and the one advice that was repeated amongst them all, over and over again; write. Just write.
I also took another quote very strongly, the words of J. K. Rowling; rock bottom was the foundation on which I began to rebuild, if not my life, then a part of me that had been too long neglected and left in the dark.
I knew the Last Prophecy would be a saga, and it was one I wanted people to read, because I knew for the first time I had something good, something that I thought you’d like. So I joined a writing group, I found an editor, I started working at upping my social media skills, I found myself trying to find what on earth I’d post in my first blog and it was soon spiralling into something tangible, something real that felt right. I remember describing it to my mother as being not unlike the first time I asked my now husband if he wanted to go out with me; terrified he would say no, but unable not to try.
My hours became filled not with mindlessly playing games, or reading books and being unhappy that they were not what I wanted to read, or looking at my life and realising there was nowhere for my creativity to flourish. They became filled with writing.
I made it my personal goal to have publish my own book via e-publishing before the end of the year, something to take back for myself. I don’t know yet if we will see Hidden Monastery this year, but given how far I’ve come I’m not going to judge myself for being a few days late. For now, this is enough, because I’m happy, and we should all try to do the things we love because it makes us happy. We should be the last people to leave ourselves in the dark.