Incredible isn't it? The way words can be rearranged to take us on unbelievable adventures mixed with different emotions. How those same letters can get us attached to characters and places that we'll only ever meet or visit in our minds.
Reading always took me on a magnificent journey. Harry Potter explored the world of magic and fantasy. Guardians of Ga'Hoole introduced me to the concept of your characters not being human yet still drawing you in. Stephen King gave me sleepless nights. And so on.
All these stories used the same words, but in different orders. And yet, they took me on different adventures.
l guess it started when I was in grade 3, writing my first story by hand, 5 pages long. I was really into Goosebumps then and tried my hand at horror. In grade 4 I wrote an adventure story. Still remember it was 47 pages long (double space because I wanted it to sound longer than it was). A done by hand and paper.
In high school is when I tried my first hand at a real novel over the summer. Ended up typing a story that was 120 pages long. This time in Microsoft Word. I sent it to a couple of publishing competitions, and got rejected in all of them. My dad tried to get it published through a connection, but that led to nowhere. Will never forget his support.
Life got busy, with work, soccer, family, but the passion never faded. The dream never died. Lockdown hit and I found myself with more time than I've had in years. I opened up the laptop one day last year and saved a word file as "My First Draft".
It was difficult to get started. I didn't have an idea. I didn't have a concept. I googled writing prompts and nothing stood out to me. I wanted something I would be passionate about. A story I could lose myself in.
And then I remembered a legend my father told me when I was young, about an ancient land that was the first home of our ancestors. I did some research and many names stood out to me, Kumari Kandam and Ilemuria amongst them.
The ideas came and I began to write. It was frustrating. I tried so hard to use the "show, don't tell" method. I wanted every sentence to be perfect and was never satisfied. It took me five hours to finish one page.
But then I looked up writing tips. George RR Martin and Stephen King both said the same thing. When writing your first draft, you are telling the story to yourself. You don't need the perfect sentences. Just get the story down.
They were right. Of course they were. I named the characters Bob and John and Emma and my sentences were boring and straight to the point, but the story flowed. I had a first draft!
The editing was next. I ripped apart my first draft and the second draft quickly followed. And then the third and the fourth. The editor loved the fourth.
As I work on the final draft, to get ready for publication this summer, I can't help but look back at the journey. It didn't start with this book. No, it started when I was a kid and picked up my first Berenstain Bears and Franklin books. It started when I tried my hand at novels like Goosebumps. It started with a clipboard, paper and pencil.
And it certainly will not end here.
Legends of Ilemuria will be a series. And the first book is only the start of the next step in my journey.