I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. My father used to bring my sister and me to the library weekly and load up grocery bags filled with books to devour. It wasn’t until high school, though, that I discovered an affection for writing. It started slowly, tentatively. I felt a little silly working at it, and throughout college, I barely even tried. I devoted myself to accounting, to the numbers, and only fulfilled my love of words through reading.
After college, though, I picked up the pen again. (Figuratively. Really, I picked up my laptop.) I had scenes living in my head, scenarios from my real life or stemming from movies or television shows, that insisted upon making it onto paper. (Okay, figuratively again. The computer screen, then.) I told very few people that it was even an interest of mine, merely keeping my scenes and little stories saved in the drafts folder of my email and feeling satisfied with just the writing of them. If I could get them from my head onto the screen, they would stop haunting me.
In my early-twenties, I dreamed of writing a book. It would become my New Years resolution for several years. “Write a book.” “Finally write a book.” “At least try to write a book.” But it felt like a pipe dream. Unattainable. I would chip away at a contemporary story, carrying the same protagonist into various scenarios and situations. Eventually, though, it started to feel like a book. It had a plot, an arc, thousands upon thousands of words that actually fit together. This project allowed me to play with writing and figure out how it all worked, from layering in subplots to dropping breadcrumbs throughout the story. It still sits in bits and pieces in some Google document somewhere, waiting to someday, maybe, be assembled.
And then, in February 2014, my sister had a dream. A very meta dream about a girl who falls in love with a boy who lives in her dreams. She thought it would make a good story, and I agreed. I let it haunt me, in the lovely way that story ideas can. It circled in and around my mind, forming a character, forming a world for my character, forming scenes and plot lines and pieces of dialogue. It spent over a year in this stage, just circling, just building, very little making it out of my head and onto paper. Eventually, though, I had to do something about it.
So I wrote a book.
I spent a year chipping away at it, not very devotedly. I would write feverishly for weeks, and then spend a month away from it. A scene would come to me, I would have to write it, and then I would be back in it for a while. It wasn’t until January 2016, when I got accepted to the Madcap Retreats Inaugural Aspiring Writers Workshop (with one of my all-time favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, as one of the instructors) that I actually buckled down, and, in March 2016, a week before the workshop, I finished the first draft.
The workshop was and is one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. I spent five days immersed in words, learning from twelve authors who were so generous with their time and knowledge. I was surrounded by other aspiring authors, for the first time in my life realizing what a community there is out there for people like me, who let stories haunt the corners of their minds. I also gained so many tools and techniques to attack the next stage of my book: the revision stage. AND, as a bonus, I made the best writing friend I ever could have found, Jenna, and together, we launched a short story project, developing a list of prompts and writing a weekly short story, which has continued over the past 6 months. (Side note: If you want to hone your writing skills, there’s nothing I recommend more than writing short stories. It has had a HUGE impact on my idea-generating, my ability to play with words, and my general writing skills.)
When I got home, I rewrote the book from scratch. I spent three months obsessively writing, churning out words nearly every evening after work, my head so firmly in the world I had built that there was no taking breaks, no losing interest, no setting it aside. I rewrote it from scratch using all of the shiny new tools I had learned at the retreat and felt immeasurably more confident in it. I did a round of revisions, sent it off to five beta readers, got extremely positive feedback and some solid constructive criticism, did another round of revisions. Realized that I was nearly 7k words over my target word count, and so went in for another round of revisions focused on cutting words. I got it down to 99k, a monumental feat that was probably the most difficult stage of this entire book-writing process for me.
In July 2017, I signed my first publishing contract. All That We See or Seem will be published by Uncommon Universes Press in May 2018 as the first book of a duology, and I am so excited to get the opportunity to share these characters and this story with all of you. My story, inspired by my sister’s dream, now fulfilling my dream of being a published author. Not a pipe dream anymore. Reachable, possible, mine.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Thanks for visiting!