I’m writing a novel.
It’s taken me a long time to be able to say those words. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and knew I was good at it. While all the other students groaned whenever we were assigned essays, I celebrated. I mastered the five paragraph format, and later relished the opportunity to write a 5,000 word essay on the hero’s journey as part of my I.B. English exam. When I entered college, I discovered the wonders of blue books and tried my best to fill them up for each exam.
My major of choice—history—gave me the opportunity to write. A lot. For grad school, I had to write a master’s thesis. It was hard work, but I enjoyed researching, putting together my data into something coherent, and writing a finished product. I still have it on my bookshelf, and page through once in a while, cringing at certain word choices and being in awe that I still managed to turn out 110+ pages of, in my advisor’s words, excellent work.
Once out of school, however, I stopped writing. With free time on my hands again, I caught up on my reading, television shows, and good old-fashioned doing nothing. It was wonderful. I had missed reading for pleasure, and not having to worry about schoolwork was a novelty. But, like all novelties, it soon wore off and I fell into the monotony of working life. That’s not to say my life was boring or bad; I had a lot of friends and other hobbies. (We’ll skip over my nearly three-year obsession with playing World of Warcraft.)
After I stopped playing WoW, I got the writing bug again, from a source many people, including other writers, look down upon: fan fiction. When I became involved in Star Wars fandom again, I got the urge to write like never before. I started out writing vignettes and short stories, and then churned out epic (fandom word for anything over 30k words) after epic. My proudest achievement was finishing a trilogy of approximately 260k words. Never in my life had I dreamed that I could write something so broad in scope, and never had I dreamed that other people would actually want to read things that I wrote.
I always wanted to write a novel. My problem was that I didn’t have any ideas for original stories. The fan fiction ideas wouldn’t stop—I still have several floating around in my mind. Then, last year, I went to Dragon*Con and attended several writing seminars given by Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston, two of my favorite Star Wars authors, along with other writing panels featuring another favorite author, Timothy Zahn. The information given in the classes was invaluable, and I was inspired to try something of my own. I even made a New Year’s Resolution to write a short story.
Instead, something wonderful happened: that fan fiction muse that wouldn’t shut up morphed into a much quieter version, but still active and talking, for original stories. And I decided to follow the advice I gained at Dragon*Con and started working on a novel. I’ve been brainstorming and doing all the background work for several months now, and the other night, I finally began putting words onto paper. I began writing my novel.
And it feels really good to say those words.