Something to Celebrate

An Essay By Heather // 8/21/2007

My palms were sweating. I leaned forward, staring at my computer screen and blinking owlishly behind my square-rimmed glasses my brother hates. I was staying up way too late, but I had to finish this. My brain froze and I momentarily panicked.
No! No, no, no, no, NO! Don’t do this to me! Anything but brainfreeze!

My palms were sweating. I leaned forward, staring at my computer screen and blinking owlishly behind my square-rimmed glasses my brother hates. I was staying up way too late, but I had to finish this. My brain froze and I momentarily panicked. No! No, no, no, no, NO! Don’t do this to me! Anything but brainfreeze! Slowly my fingers picked up work again. I typed feverishly. Then I paused, staring at what I’d written. It was good. Not perfect, but good. If I could finish it tonight, I’d be satisfied until I started editing. Then I knew I’d rip what I’d written apart, frustrated because it didn’t say exactly what I wanted it too. But for now it looked good. I’d worry about the fine-tuning when I got to it. I’d started this three and a half years ago. Three and a half years ago, sitting bored to death at my uncle and aunt’s house (which was amazing…I’m usually never bored there) I picked up a yellow legal pad (one of my favorite writing tools) and a scratchy, beat-up, gnawed-on pen (back in the days before braces and I could chew on things like that). I’d scribbled down a title… “The Second Crown” and started writing. I had no idea what it was about, why I was writing it, or where it would go. All I knew was it was a story about a girl named Rhia, raised as a peasant when she was actually the daughter of an overthrown duke, and somehow she would help her father get his dukedom back. How? No idea, except that the second crown of the title came in there somewhere… I gave it up after three chapters. But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. A month later I came back to it, rewrote the first three chapters, and kept going. My brain filled with ideas. Rhia’s guardian, Mabel, was a weaver. She would die as she traveled in a merchant train to another city to buy supplies. Rhia had to get a job at the castle, where the duke Ruper now reigned. She meets a teenage boy by name of Jakon, who is a mercenary and has beaten the duke’s son Melthon in swordplay (which is a big deal, since Melthon is the best swordsman in the country). Rhia finds out about her noble birth and decides to help her father regain his dukedom by finding the second crown, a treasure long hidden by a duke of ancient history who died without an heir. The king back then had decreed that whoever found the second crown would become the duke of that dukedom, but because of the hardship no one ever did and the king had been forced to appoint a duke. So Rhia and Jakon and three friends would find this crown, but they had to have an adversary. Ruper’s son Melthon fit that perfectly. He was a good villain…handsome, brown hair, blue eyes, and a nasty temper. And a grudge against Jakon. There was my story. But it had expanded since those days. I’d learned how to write better, more gripping, tense action. I knew how to expand my characters and let the reader know about them without shoving it in someone’s face. Character names had changed. Jakon went from Bryan to Jakon. Rhia’s friend Aislinn was first Ryse, then Rysa, then finally Aislinn. Joshua became, instead of Jakon’s friend, a duke. Jakon’s two friends, Quenton and Arlen, underwent various name changes. Character attitudes had changed. Jakon’s shallow, gruff character melted away to change into a young man who genuinely cared for his friends, but who sometimes had a hard time showing his emotions. His friend Arlen changed from pure comic relief to a fun-filled young man trying to find his place in the world and model himself after the man he most admires, Jakon. Jakon realizes this and it puts additional pressure on him, on top of his role as the leader of the five young people. I also found that a romance had sprung up between Jakon and Rhia. It was annoying at first, because I wanted my book to be pure fantasy adventure, but then I realized a little wouldn’t be bad. After all, I reasoned, what do you call Aragorn and Arwen in Lord of the Rings, or Eowyn and Faramir? Even the story between Eowyn and Aragorn was of a girl’s crush on a handsome, cool guy. But I didn’t want my book to be a “*sigh*, he’s sooo handsome and she’s sooo perfect for him” type story, where the hero gracefully defeats the villain without getting a scratch, scoops up the madly-in-love maiden, and rides happily off into the sunset. Gag! So I focused on the adventure, every now and then putting in a hint about Jakon and Rhia. At the end they get engaged with parental approval and in the epilogue, a year later, they get married. End of romance. Amid all that was the fact that, foolishly, I had a wonderful idea that I’d write the whole thing out by hand and revise as I put it into the computer. My dedication to that idea lasted precisely six months, whereupon I typed out everything I had and continued on the computer. I honestly don’t know how Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Louisa May Alcott did everything by hand! And typewriters for Lewis, Tolkien, and Harold Bell Wright had to be little better (for anyone who’s every used an old-fashioned typewriter, you know what I mean. For anyone who hasn’t, find one and try to type anywhere near what we call “fast.”) I like the nostalgic feel of typewriters and hand-written papers, but for quick typing and something I work on long-term, give me a computer any day! Digressing…sorry. It’s one of my problems. Anyway, with all that and the fact that I changed computers exactly four times during the book, I was becoming frustrated. If one of my good friends hadn’t been bugging me constantly to finish it, I honestly think I would’ve scrapped the whole thing. As it was, Josiah and my own stubbornness saved the book from extinction. I’d determined last Christmas to get the book done (not finished, merely done. There is a difference) before it’s fourth birthday, which was October 10th, 2007. So here it was, June 13th, 2007, 10:50 P.M. My mom was reading in her bedroom opposite where I sat in the living room, typing away. I was so close, just a paragraph or two to fill in the gap between the time Jakon recovers from almost mortal wounds in his fight with Melthon, to the epilogue. I was stuck. I hated to admit it, but two paragraphs way from finishing my story, I was stuck. I get writer’s block at the worst possible times. I scanned the screen again, trying to make it fit together. And suddenly, BAM! Something hit me, something literally under my nose. That’s why the scene hadn’t been working right! Of course! I erased a paragraph and started over, typing so fast I expected my fingers to start smoking. Three minutes later I sat back and smiled. It flowed now, smooth as a piece of nougat. Wahoooo! I was done! Yay! I got up and shot to my parents’ bedroom. “Mom, I’m done! I finished The Second Crown!” I whispered, trying not to wake up my dad. He cracked an eyelid anyway. “That’s great, honey,” my mom whispers, half-asleep. Dad grins and gives me a thumbs-up. “Good job, kiddo.” I slipped out and shut down my computer, grinning. It felt so good. Right now I wasn’t worrying about how hard it was to break into the awe-inspiring circle of publishers and authors, nor was I worrying about how realistic and good my writing was. My heart was light and my brain-wheels were spinning. How was I supposed to sleep? I had something to celebrate! “Thank You, God.”

copyright 2007 by Magical Ink (magical-ink.blogspot.com)

Comments

I know those feelings.

I know those feelings. Including the writing on an old-fashioned typewriter. (It loves to jam too.) I'm about five thousand words away from being done with my fifth book. There is a certain excitement that you don't get any other way. And yet that old writers block does hit at the worst possible times. It's a lovely feeling being done with a book. Since my books are rather short by themselves, I've been reconsidering my original plans and am seriously considering making three books of 200,000 words each. (Roughly the length of the latest Harry Potter book.) instead of a dozen little books. My original plan was to write seven books. I don't like all that silly ridiculous romance either. So far I've had pretty good luck keeping things like that from happening in my stories with the exception pretty much being people who are married. They often hang out together and such.

Good luck with your book(s)!

Shane | Tue, 08/21/2007

So are you planning to

So are you planning to publish your books? That'd be cool!
My biggest problem with writing a book is I get so attached to the characters I don't want to stop writing their story! I've heard some advice to make shorter books because peoples' attention spans are shorter. My thinking is that if you make the story interesting enough, than they'll read it whether it's 200 or 200,000 words long!
Good luck to you too, man!
Thea

Heather | Thu, 08/23/2007

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

When I started I had no

When I started I had no intentions of publishing them, but now that I've written more of the story I'm beginning to reconsider that decision. However, I haven't really made any final decisions about if I will publish them or not.

I have that problem with characters as well. I get so fascinated with one character and their story that I tend to shut out all the others.

Good thoughts about the book length, and it's quite true.

-Shane

Shane | Thu, 08/23/2007

Congratulations

I'm so excited for you! I wish I could read the story, it sounds like a good one... :) I have yet to find the time to actually finish a book. I have outlines for a couple, one in particular (a devotional book for mom's of autistic children) is all laid out and even has a title and intro -- but I haven't had the chance to actually write out each chapter (despite the fact that I know what the chapters are going to be about). I suppose the time will come though - and then I'll get to experience the "It's finished!" excitement...
Congratulations - it's definitely time for a celebration!

Jenny | Wed, 08/29/2007

Thanks!

Jenny, thank you! Your devotional sounds like an awesome idea! BTW, you know the camp I told you about, Camp Barnabas? (I think it was a comment on your first post) Anyway, I went there again this summer. I'll try to post an essay about it sometime soon!
Again, thanks!
Thea

Heather | Wed, 08/29/2007

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

awesome

I can't wait to hear about your adventures at Camp Barnabas this year! I'm so glad you decided to go again this summer...
Looking forward to hearing about it!
~Jenny

Jenny | Fri, 08/31/2007

You sound exactly like me!

You sound just like me: about two and a half years ago, I had the idea for a story, and started writing it. It took me almost two years to finish, and my characters, places, and whole plot line had changed completely and drastically. People switched names, died, or disappeared. I typed it on three computers before it was printed. It felt wonderful to be done with it, and now I am going back and slowly revising (perhaps completely rewriting) it. Your story sounds very good, and interesting too.

Anonymous | Fri, 02/13/2009

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