The Bumpy Road Of My First Draft

A psychologist once told me I didn't have much imagination. I have this statement on paper. I was thirteen then. Now, ten years later, I have finished the first draft of my first fantasy novel.


'Classical Studies' candle from the 'Darkest Of Academia' Box from Elven Wick (instagram | website). Quote by Adrienne Young.


I was fourteen years old, lying awake in bed, like every night. I was (and still am) a great worrier. The quiet moment just before falling asleep was the ideal moment for my mind to start working. But for once I wasn't worrying about what happened that day or what would happen the day to come. I was seeing an image on the red canvas of my closed eyes. I saw a girl with straight, blond hair, cut off at the level of her chin, holding a ring with ten gemstones in different colors.


I colored her hair copper and there is no mention about a ring in my story ow, but it was the start of this draft.


I started to write chronologically, but after five chapters I got stuck. From then on I started writing scenes that popped up in my head without knowing where I would put them. It was a voyage of discovery of my world and the characters that lived in it.

I wrote whenever I had inspiration, not pushing myself to get those words down on paper.

After a year or so I heard Michèle (my critique partner now ) talking to a mutual friend about this story she was writing. We were in the same group of friends but only then we really started talking one on one, about our writing mostly. We let each other read our new scenes and chapters after the last school bell, while our friends who cycle home with us were impatiently waiting and complaining to go home. Michèle and I had to go different directions so, well... our friends just to wait. (Fun fact: Apparently we started writing our stories only one day apart! Meant to be??)


After three years, I completely started over with my story. I was seventeen by then and my writing style had grown a lot. Even my way of story telling, of plotting things out, was completely different, so I felt stuck at the certain time. So I started over. Even though my family thought I was crazy to throw away three years of writing, I still think it was the best decision I have ever made writing-wise. Those three years of writing I 'threw away', weren't lost years. I had learned so much and my story wouldn't be as it is now if I hadn't gone through that trial and error phase.


Before I knew, however, high school was over and university was waiting for me. I had decided to study Audiovisual Arts Animation Film, because this was the only course in Belgium were I would be free to write my own stories. I learned so much during those four years. Writing for film and novels is a different technique, but there are also a lot of similarities.

However, I lost my fantasy story out of sight. My head was full with stories for school assignments, that I didn't have any room left for thinking about my personal project. Next to that, Michèle and I lost contact. Michèle had quitted writing for a few years. And even though I never admitted to myself I had quit, I barely wrote myself.


'The Writer' print from The Happy Living Collection from Elven Wick (instagram | website).


About two years ago, when I was in my master (so four years after high school), Michèle sent me a message on Facebook, telling me that she picked up writing again. I jumped for joy and picked up my writing again that same day. If it weren't for Michèle, I would still be neglecting my project, probably would never have finished that first draft.


I started writing the same way as years ago: whenever I had inspiration for whatever scene. This worked for about a year, until February this year. But then my inspiration ran out. In addition, I started to notice inconsistencies, which are inevitable when you work so chaotically.

For the first time I decided to make up a plan. I would use the month of March to write at least a 1000 words for every chapter. I succeeded. Right in time to start my next challenge: to edit my complete draft chronologically before the end of July 2020, starting the beginning of April.

My draft counted about 70,000 words by then. I estimated I would reach 85,000 words by the time I finished it.

April was a good month. I wrote and edited 25 000 words. This meant I had to write and edit about 20,000 words a month to reach my goal.

May was another good month. I reached my goal of 20,000. But then June came. School deadlines came. I barely wrote anything down for an entire month...

So I would have to write and edit 40,000 words in a little over three weeks in July if I wanted to reach my goal. Nobody cared if I wouldn't reach my goal, if I would buy myself more time. After all, this was just a personal goal. But the end of this first draft, after 8 years of writing, was so close. I didn't want to give up. So I wrote, worked for school (btw, I started a new course at the beginning of July), wrote again, worked for my student job, wrote again. Michèle was there for me all this time, frantically working on the second draft of her own story she also wanted to finished by the end of July.

And I DID IT. I fucking did it. I finished the last chapter on July 30th, one day before my deadline. We both did it, actually. I could cry of happiness.


I have no idea if this story will ever be published. If anyone else except for my family, critique partner and beta readers will ever read it. So it might be stupid of me to be sharing about this project with you, knowing it might never work out. But I will always be proud of this first big accomplishment.


Remember. You are your only limit.


Lastly, I want to put Michèle in the spotlight. She has recently started her own blog on stories (in books, films, games and her own stories). Go check out her work on her blog of instagram.


Love,


Janne

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