Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of a Year, the Beginning of Another

As I huddle in my trusty dining room chair, bathed in the bluish white glow of the computer monitor, I'm stricken by how much has changed over the past few years...and yet, how much has not. As for what has changed...

Three years ago on this night, I wrote the first word of what would eventually grow into The Sword of the Patron, my first novel, which today hunts for a publisher willing to bless it with printed pages to call its own.
Like all things that start small and on a whim, my little experiment in storytelling grew and changed. What began as one novel split like a single celled organism and grew into two, when I learned I had far too much story to cram into a first-time novelist's meager pages. Two books then birthed the concept for a third, though this story remains in its infancy while I tend books one and two. Amusing, given that prior to that day in 2007, I had continually told myself I was no writer.

That novel I started three years ago has undergone multiple transformations since its inception in 2007. After all, I had never heard the phrase Point Of View, at least not in the prose sense, before I had written almost all of The Sword of the Patron. I blundered into a less flawed rendering of the story than I might have, since I wrote the story using my protagonist as the "camera"...later I would learn I had used limited third person point of view. Granted, I had mountains of errors in need of revisitation, but I'm thankful for the learning I've gained over the intervening years that have helped me recognize them. I can only imagine the days, weeks, and years to come will help me see more places I can tighten and polish. Heaven forbid I ever reach the point where I decide I have no more to learn. And praise God for people brave enough to point out when I've made a mess of things and need to fix them.

An ever widening garden of writing endeavors grew from seeds planted by The Sword of the Patron. From characters mentioned in that tale and its sequel, A Voice Within, The Windrider serial took flight. I have long known who Vinyanel Ecleriast is...I believe he marched into my head in the late 90's...but his very mention in my second novel gave him breath enough to demand more screen time of his own. (He's demanding like that.) And from there, the early-history rendering of Delquessa's Lament, a novella in progress, has also taken shape.

Since my unfocused start, I've learned how very little I know and gotten a sense of just how mammoth the task of learning how to write really is. Through a couple writers' conferences,  a few contests, and a handful of rejections (some more painful than others), I've discovered more about the world of fiction than I ever thought possible. All this set into motion by taking a few blundering steps into fleshing out a character I had in my head who I thought wanted her story told in greater detail.

So, why am I recounting all this on this New Year's eve? I suppose it's because we all tend to wax nostalgic on nights like this, but it's also to encourage you...if there's a story inside you waiting to get out, don't insist it remain within only your soul, never to breath the fresh air of the world. Certainly, some will throw a few rocks at your baby. But others just might cheer and say your story has brightened their lives. You might be able to shed light upon a message only you can tell in your words, but will resonate with just the person who needs to hear it.

Here I am, three years later, in the same spot (or at least nearly) as I was that handful of New Year's eves ago. But at the same time, what a vastly different place I now sit. In a place I once restrained my inclinations, I have now found passion. Where I once feared to tread, I find irrepressible motivation. I'm looking forward to where 2011 will take me as I continue the journeys that ensue every time I sit in this chair and place my fingers upon the keyboard.

As for you...find your adventure this year and head out upon it. Without so much as even a handkerchief in your pocket. You won't regret it.

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