Well, maybe I am in the midst of becoming an author. I’ve been doing a lot of writing this last two years. I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) in the past, successfully completing it in 2012. But while I like the idea behind NaNo, I was turned off to the organization when I saw that an editor’s choice link to the forums included ways to essentially cheat yourself out of what NaNo is really about to me: getting experience.
The suggestions, right out of the gate in this editor’s choice thread included: giving characters long titles and having them introduced a lot so you can repeat the title. Having a character who is hard of hearing so he can ask other characters to repeat themselves and then actually repeat themselves. The best was to have a character sing a popular song, and then include the lyrics.
Other than being a huge waste of your time and that last one might actually be illegal if you choose to move to publishing, what did it matter? They were missing the point. Other suggestions included
striking through unused or edited text but not deleting it, which I guess is half fair, but it is still only you who is losing. Don’t be a dick. Don’t cheat at NaNo. If you want the stupid PDF at the end just lie and say you wrote 50k words and collect.
Anyway… End rant and a bit of history.
I’ve been writing for years now. It started when I was 12, really poorly written completely incoherent messes that were based off page counts and not word counts but I generally enjoyed. At my heyday I probably spent at least two hours a day writing after school. It was something I looked forward to.
Fast forward and I eventually found myself at the Paradox Interactive Forums, specifically the AAR section. AARs are essentially fanfiction about a game for all intents and purposes. Most are sort of like tutorials on how to play or how a specific person plays. But there was a core of us who focused on alternative methods: narrative and history book. I did a lot of writing there, including a rather ambitious project called Báltikjá which was going to cover roughly a thousand years of alternate history.
In it, the Saxons of Northern England flee before William the Conqueror could begin the Harrying of the North and head east into the Baltic. They settle in what is today the Kaliningrad Oblast and eventually expanding to create a massive medieval empire, which promptly collapses in civil war.
I got well into the 1300s, maybe even the 1400s, but had the whole history plotted out through 2022. I still have all my notes, flags, maps, symbols, everything really. I went as far as creating a conlang that was part Old English, part Latvian, and part just a lot of fun. I was very proud of it. But I was getting busy with college and after so many years it just wasn’t fun to write anymore.
Part of that was because the medium: the serial format and the ages and ages of samey go-nowhere posts got boring to me and I think it got boring to my readers. I tried to keep things interesting. Tried to introduce arcs, but in the end the story was just too slow and I grew to loathe my time spent writing it.
I posted an apology, posted a general timeline of all the cool history bits I hadn’t gotten to yet. And moved on.
Later that year, I think, is when I did NaNo and was able to get something like 50,030 words out in just the nick of time. It was a lot of good experience. I enjoyed it. I still poke around at the characters I wrote, but that was a notes in a sketch pad to me. It will never see the light of day. Not because it is “bad” or because I am ashamed, but the purpose was to see if I still wanted to write, and I did.
In August of 2013, after being laid off, I sat down and opened Microsoft Word. I wasn’t too worried about being laid off. I mean, engineer, in Detroit, already hearing back from recruiters. But I did have some free time thrust upon me so I took at it with new life. There was a piece I started when I was about fifteen or sixteen. It can be hard to tell. It was a dark fantasy and involved a normal Gary Stu finding his vampire Mary Sue and them banging and eventually becoming King and Queen. Did I mention I was fifteen or sixteen?
There were a few things I liked about it though. I liked the setting. I like the idea of a nation-state run by vampires in a world otherwise inhabited by moral peoples. I like the pseudo-medieval, light magic, big world feel. I like the way an immortal character and a mortal character might interact. So, essentially stealing my opening lines I began…
More than a year later, after three job switches, a move, a dead car, two new cars, plenty of soccer, getting on twitter, making this site, so much more… I am much further along. This series WILL get published, it is just a matter of when, not if. Book 1 Mark 2 is in the hands of some first readers. Once I upgrade to Mark 3 it will go to copy editing and then will probably make some rounds with publishers or maybe just get self-published.
I am very pleased with my progress so far. The balance of work, life, video games, DCFC, and writing has been hard but manageable. And enjoyable. I have been very happy to once again be at the helm of something like this. My character have been making me happy and though Book 2 has gone through the first of its rough spots, I am certain I shall see it to the end. And then the next one. And the next one. Because trilogies is so 80s. Now it is all about the Quadrilogies.