I started writing stories when I was little. So little I don’t even remember exactly and I don’t have any idea where those first stories are these days. But something about writing and books captivated me from very young age, and I haven’t put down the pen (more or less literally) since.
My first stories all followed a very similar plot. A girl gets a dog, superhappyfuntime! The End. … Not really masterpieces. I like animals, especially dogs, and as a kid I had a lot of books that somehow had animals in them. And I was a little girl who really, really wanted a dog. So it’s not surprising I chose stories like that as my first steps into the writing world.
The stories were pretty much what you would expect: barely legible handwriting, odd words and phrasing, and names even I can’t understand anymore. But it was fun. I wrote other stuff for school, even some poems, but up until I was around 11-12, it was mostly just dogs.
During that time I discovered the great opportunities of fantasy writing. Unicorns, magic, elves… I started reading more fantasy books and liked them, and I wanted to try my hand at it. I still wrote realistic stories (to be fair they weren’t all that realistic even though they were about our world and normal humans) but my interest was slipping towards fantasy. And that interest hasn’t disappeared since. My favorite genres are still fantasy and sci-fi.
A few years forward, I planned my first long storylines. They had some good elements in them, I can say that even now, but I’m also glad I never posted them anywhere. Major plotholes, inconsistent characters, and worlds that made no sense. I don’t regret writing them as I learn from every written word, but like I said, I’m glad no one else saw them either. Besides, they reached 20 pages at best, so the stories never even finished.
I wanted to get better at writing so, in the lack of own ideas, I switched to the side of fanfiction. For me it was great practice, a way to try out different writing styles and look for my own voice. Several fandoms, dozens of characters, a few OCs, and little by little I got more confident with my writing. I posted a few online, extremely relieved when those didn’t get shot down. I’ve always thought I understood the importance of critique but honestly I’ve only learned to appreciate it during the last few years. As a teenager I dreaded for it because critique had to mean I was a no good writer, right? I’m glad to know that’s not true now.
My first year of doing NaNoWriMo finally proved I was capable of writing stories as long as 20,000 words. Not a full Nano, not even the length of a proper novel, but it far exceeded anything I’d finished before that. And it gave me a new spark. Perhaps, instead of all the short stories I wrote, I could someday finish a novel? Publish a book?
The idea seemed very distant and unreachable during that time. I barely knew there was such a thing called self-publishing. I knew I wouldn’t (shouldn’t) publish anything for years because I realized my writing wasn’t quite that good, but even as I kept writing and improving, I always kept the idea of publishing as just a silly distant dream.
It wasn’t until I started writing Awoken Dragon that I finally thought I could do it. I didn’t plan for it to be published but the more I wrote it, the more I liked it, and the better I felt about the idea of releasing it into the world. Sure, I still have a lot to learn about writing and, as I’ve stated on multiple occasions, I can always be better, but looking at the finished book, I’m happy about my decision. Writing has given me joy ever since I first picked up the pen as a kid, but only publishing made me see what I’d been missing the whole time: the joy of sharing your work with others, and, better yet, with others who end up liking the book.
I’d still consider myself a rookie in writing, but everyone has to start somewhere. I know some things already, but I’m more interested in what I don’t know. And to find out what those things are I need to keep writing, publishing, reading and listening to advice from those with more experience. But in the end, the best (if not only) way to figure out how to make things work is trying them out myself. That’s the fun of it. Trying, experiencing. Perhaps something amazing comes out, perhaps something disastrous. Either way, I’m certain I’ve learned a lesson or two on the way.