20-Something · author · bettering self · book review · encourage · encouragement · life

The Opening Line is the Hardest: Or, What I Learned Writing the First Draft of My Novel

It is a long story – my journey to writing this, the first draft of Book of Zedrick (I do have a copyright on this FYI…).  It started, plainly, when I came to the realization that I was suffering from book fatigue.

Book fatigue is the name I put to: when you, a reader, search and search for the right story, but it evades you.  The more you search, the most distraught you, the reader, become.

There was nothing I wanted more than a breath of fresh air.

Something new.

In point of fact, I remember the precise, exact moment I discovered the inspiration for Book of Zedrick.  I was 11 years old, at the mall with my parental units.  Having just finished re-reading the Lord of the Rings for the up-teenth time (as I had read most everything in the YA and fantasy sections of the local library), I was in desperate need of a dragon book.

(This was during my dragon phase – don’t judge – we’ve all had that phase….)

I looked the bookstore-owner full in the face and politely (with, what I am 100% positive was, complete and utter desperation) asked if she could recommend a good dragon book.

This bookstore-owner (I sincerely wish I could remember her name) looked me up and down.  Somehow, she came to the conclusion that I was a well-read person and took me by the shoulder to the very back of the bookstore.

“My son just finished reading this book,” she said, pulling a blue book off the very bottom shelf.  “He said to recommend it everyone who loves to read.”6a2d899d889b5a720fd2e45b794ac4f9

It was a gorgeous cover and, flipping through the pages, I saw a curious image: that of a very fierce-looking dragon delicately holding a teacup.

And that was how I found my inspiration to write.

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica is, hands down, one of the best and most intriguing series I have ever read.  It was an instant hit with my family and those of my friends who had a love for fantasy, mythology, and real-world history.

But, I digress, this is not a blog post to fangirl over my favorite book series.

“Our weaknesses are always evident, both to ourselves and others. But our strengths are hidden until we choose to reveal them–and that is when we are truly tested. When all that we have within is exposed, and we may no longer blame our inadequacies for our failure, but must instead depend upon our strengths to succeed … that is when the measure of a man is taken, my boy.”
― James A. Owen, Here, There Be Dragons

Throughout all the wisdom in Here, There Be Dragons, one thing stood out to me more than anything else:

“It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the World, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the World, and it is yours to save or lose.”
― James A. Owen, Here, There Be Dragons

Inside all of us is a story.

Whether this story comes out in words, in a painting, or a photograph, in kisses… this is a story the world needs to hear and you deserve to tell.

At 12 years of age, I wrote the first scene for Book of Zedrick.  It was something along the lines of: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

That’s a lie.

I’ve, since, lost that original story.  And, in the 9 years that have passed since that first draft, I’ve written and re-written Book of Zedrick about 20 times.  I will be honest, there was point where I hit a : “Screw it.  Twilight is a bestselling series. Nobody wants to read a story some 12 year old came up with.”

And, the story that lived inside me was stifled for years.

In those years, I became a freelance editor for wattpad.com. Which, I can say, was one of the best things that happened to me.  I became a part of a community of people who were going through the same struggles I was going through.

I wrote a short story (that was eventually published in a veterans magazine) that I featured on my Wattpad page.  It was up for 20 minutes and a message popped up in my inbox.

“Dude, I read your story and you should totally write science fiction.”

I looked at my bookshelf, staring intently at the mass of notes and re-writings of Book of Zedrick.  I looked back at the very sweet message I had received, my fingers poised above the keyboard as I debated what best to say in response.

“Thanks, man, but I wouldn’t know where to start.”

This man, who had been so kind to read my short story and send a message to a lowly, 15 year old editor, responded with: “You just pick up a pen, look at the world around you, and just write.”

That man was Aaron Kite, author of Two Cats (which, I’ll be frank, is one of the best fiction novels I have ever read).

“Just write.”

That stuck with me.  I pushed aside Book of Zedrick and started writing Knight Time.  What I learned, writing Knight Time was that not everyone is going to like your story, but, if you just write, the story flows and flows and flows until this stream in unquenchable.  No amount of negativity could stop that story from coming.

Since 2011, I have started and stopped and posted and taken down at least 4 books.  Always coming back to my first story.

Always, coming back to the story of young woman who is learning to come to terms with her own, particular, talents.  It sounds really cliche for a Young Adult novel, but the story started, and continues to be, a story that exists solely to break molds.

To bend and break cliches.

To say, “Screw you.” to the higher powers and follow the beat of your own soul.

For National Novel Writing Month 2016, I picked up Book of Zedrick once more.

The first draft does not have to be perfect.  It is as perfect as it can be.  For right now, all that exists is the rough draft of a story that has been yearning to be told for close to a decade.

As much as I wanted it to be perfect on the first try…

Everyone’s first draft is shit.

Since 2011, I have kept sporadic contact with Aaron Kite (or ironkite as is his username on Wattpad).  Constantly, his responses to my questions is…

Well…

“Just write.”

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