When I was ten years old, I read Andrew Clements’ novel, School Story, for the first time. For anyone not familiar with his work, School Story is about two twelve-year-old girls who work together to get a book published. Natalie has written a full novel, and when her friend, Zoe, reads it, she is convinced that it’s good enough to be published. Natalie eventually agrees, but she wants the book sent to the publishing company where her mother works. She wants her mom to be the editor, but in order to get the book through to the top of the pile, Natalie and Zoe have to undertake the process through a series of pen names, false names, and a agency started with Zoe’s savings account.
This story struck me very deeply in several ways. First, I was fascinated by the process of getting a book from written stage to published stage. Clements did a fairly good job of running through the various steps and how a book moves through a publishing company. Second, I loved the fact that the girls were young. They were my age. What if I could do that? Get a book written and published at a young age? Could I? Did I have the potential to do that?
I decided I did.
I wrote my first book only a little while later when I turned eleven. It was a silly little children’s story, a story based around my own family set in a fantastical world of princes and battles and magic. It wasn’t very good, trust me; it won’t ever see the light of day. At least not without essentially an entire overhaul. But I loved writing it. See, as a kid, I thought this was fantastic. People my age I had shown it to thought it was good. I felt like I was on cloud nine. Not only had I managed to finish an entire book, I saw series potential. Somewhere I have a couple notebooks with ideas for the next six books. (The best series I had read at the time was Harry Potter, of course, so seven seemed like a logical number to me.) Now the only things I remember are small remnants.
Now almost immediately after editing this book, (yes, even I knew then books needed editing first!) I started to seek out literary agents. I knew it was very important to get one. My mom bought me a book home one day that had a list of literary agents and book publishers for children’s books for that particular year. I spent hours pouring over it. I had someone picked out, and I actually wrote my first query letter. I believe there’s still a copy of it in my email drafts.
But alas, eventually, the book faded from view for me. Don’t ask me why because I really don’t remember. However, my thoughts of publishing never faded. I wanted people to hear my voice. I had a wild imagination, one that many could never understand. Writing would help me change that. I was sure of it.
Fast forward a bit. Over the rest of my middle school and high school years, I attempted many books. Most of them were contemporary romance stories. Some had a couple fantastical elements thrown in. I believe I attempted one contemporary fantasy novel. The thing is, I would get really excited about an idea. I would think, “That’s it. This is the one!” And so I would write for a few months: plan out characters, plan out plots, start stories. But every single time, none of them made it halfway through a draft. I lost interest. I sprang on to the next idea as soon as it came up. I must have eight to ten unfinished stories. Now normally, that would drive me crazy. But these stories didn’t hold up to me. They were easily forgotten.
That’s not what you want when you’re writing something you want to be significant. None of them were “the one”.
Until about halfway through my senior years.
As I’ve mentioned before in a previous personal post, there was an incident the January of my senior year that led to the loss of a very close friend and a brother. I snapped. I was tired of being left behind. I loved him and the good times we had had together, but I was honestly done. This little part of me didn’t want to forget all of the good times though. I wanted to remember the best parts of the sibling relationship while blocking out enough of the bad to make it seem worthwhile enough.
That’s how Chasing Fae was born.
This idea stuck. It was different. It was exciting. It was born out of something real and more passionate than I could have imagined. I spent over ten months planning before I got the courage to write. I wrote character profiles and worldbuilt like a madwoman. I toyed with the details, twisting each one to my heart’s desire. I laid out the plot in front of me, not just the first plot but the subsequent sequels that were born out of how much inspiration I had in my body. In November, I took that leap with NaNoWriMo and wrote my first draft.
It felt so incredibly freeing. I feel like a real writer.
The going is slow. I’ve been working on revisions for almost three months now and am nowhere near done at this point. Some days I feel like it will never get done. That I’ll never get to publication stage. But I think about that little girl, that kid so dedicated to her writing and so inspired that she would stop at nothing to make her voice be heard. I am that girl. She’s still here inside me. I’m still telling our story through whatever means I can. I won’t let either of us down. I will write until I cannot write another word or until the whole story is told with no gaps, no holes, and absolutely no lies.