I’ve been reminiscing lately on how I got started on this whole crazy journey. The start of my writing life is a little nebulous in my memory. (A fact which would shock my family. I’m known as the one with a mind like a steel trap.)
Basically, though, this is what I remember:
In ninth grade I was obsessed with a certain boy band. No, I won’t say which. That would date me. I think at around the same time the movie, “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron” came out and, well, I’ve always been into horses. (I used to have one but we had to put him down last year.) Somehow I got the idea in my head to write a screenplay for an animated movie about horses. And since the member of said boy band with whom I was most obsessed was also into horses my brain had the casting down to a tee.
I started working on the idea, trying to learn how to write a screenplay, and coveting screen writing software that would automatically format the script properly. (You know, character names in all caps, action tags, to be used sparingly, in brackets, one minute of screen time per page, etcetera.) Boy was that software going to be expensive. And at the time, I of course didn’t have a credit card. (Oh, to return to that time.)
Somewhere along the way between ninth grade and my junior year of high school (in Utah, middle school is 7th, 8th and 9th, while high school is 10th, 11th, 12th), the idea got abandoned. I’m sure somewhere in all the boxes of books and miscellanea at my mom’s house I still have my basic notes that I took on the idea. (Casting alongside notes on who should do the music, since it was going to be classic Disney, singing characters and all.)
Also somewhere in here I was doing a lot of reading. Fantasy mostly. We’re talking my first exposure to Tolkien (junior year); J.K. Rowling, Tamora Pierce, and David Eddings dominated. I know that thought crossed my mind, “I could do this. I could write a fantasy novel.”
I launched into the world-building. My parents had years before bought a large encyclopedia set and it sat on our shelves. I took to thumbing through it for maps and pulling random place names for locations in my fantasy world. This was after I’d hit on the inspiration for my entire plot, the meaning of a name given to one of the principal female characters in the saga.
By senior year I was writing the story. My English teacher that year, Sly, was kind enough to offer me feedback on my chapters as I went. I spent down time in every class revising those first few chapters. My folder filled with the hard copies of those chapters and my special writing pen were never far from hand anywhere I went in my day. (Nor were the notebooks I wrote in at the time, even when I went to work that summer after graduation.)
Eight years later, after abandoning the novel on two different occasions (and some encouraging words from Jasper Fforde), I launched into a start-from-scratch world-building frenzy and rewrite of the first book in the series. I finished it after five or so months and the monkey left my back.
I have since shelved the book but I still think about it and the characters almost constantly. I know it can be saved, I’m just not there yet.