A Writer’s Path

… is not an easy thing to define. Each time I believe I’m closer to an answer, my direction changes. Or maybe the rules change. And sometimes, I’m just not where I thought I was. Someone find me a map, please.

It seems odd to say, but I started my writing path fifteen years ago. Back then my life was falling apart at every turn. No matter which direction I took, disaster was soon to follow. To keep myself somewhat sane, I started learning Elvish. And yes… nerd alert... I’m talking Tolkien’s elvish languages. I even still have a subscription to Vinyar Tengwar. I was also *gasp* learning D’ni, the Myst language.

During this time I discovered that several of us had a particular love for the Wheel of Time series and we decided to start an RPG site. <sigh> Disaster… that is all. But it opened up a part of myself I’d cut off from… myself. I started poking at constructing a language, creating characters, and eventually started writing a story.

FYI… it was a terrible story, but it had a promising premise. It dug deep into the true (fantasy) origins of Earth, but there was one problem: everyone writes about Earth. I wanted something new and fresh, a place that was mine and far away from this planet. Thus began the construction of a 4-star planetary system which is part of the underlying foundation of the Halon Universe. This fictional universe has been my one true love for years, and delves into the realms of medieval science fiction, genetics, and stolen moons.

For many years, I thought this would be my only love, and every story I started construction on was part of the main story line or a parallel. Two years ago I went through more life-changing nonsense where writing became a thin thread of sanity I clung to. I couldn’t focus on anything, so I wrote, and wrote, and banged out one story after another. During this time I discovered the universe that contains the worlds of Arånor. In fact the one I pitched last week was the third in this universe, and the first story I looked at and thought… “well, gotta start somewhere.”

This is where I took the training wheels off my work and got serious about the craft. I’m talking the nitty gritty about making a story really shine. I immediately picked up two CPs a year ago, then a third not long after. These three wonderful people tore my story (and my writing) to shreds. By this I mean they each took a spotlight and shone it in every crevice, under each rock, and drove the shadows out of every inch of the story. What started as 40K words vomited onto a page became something substantial. I ripped characters away, cut scenes in half, mashed others together, and gave the entire story an overhaul, beefing it up to 80K words. During this time I learned that everyone loves different characters, each concept in a story should be cast with a different lens, and every character should have a purpose that drives some aspect of the story.

That pile of vomited words taught me more than I could have ever imagined. So when I sat down with another tale I’d been working on for years, suddenly I saw the entire manuscript in a new light. It wasn’t great, but the story was there. So I started ripping it apart, rewrite several sections, and it’s currently with beta readers. Either in a few weeks or a few months, that story will be ready for me to tackle again and dig deeper into the edits.

Which brings me around to fifteen years after I started my writing journey. I’m published, yes, but not any novels. Most of my published work is in the form of code (i.e. web pages), and they get a lot of traffic so each one has to be perfect. As I slowly ease writing and editing onto my growing list of career skills, I find that many of the same principles apply. Every journey is different, strive for perfection, and always… always take one final look for fixes. Even with code, fix one bug, three more pop up.

To all writers out there, embrace your journey. It’s yours and can’t be duplicated. Take days off when you need to, block the world out when you must, but never take your eyes off the light at the end. You’ll get there. 🙂

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