Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It Begins...

Books are super personal to me, something I've been working on and thinking about since I was eleven years old. At the grand old age of nineteen, it feels like I've been writing books my whole life. I've read a lot of people talking about how it was their passion, how they've told stories all their lives, how their parents are writers, and all these inspiring stories about how they feel they've always been 'destined' or 'made' to be a writer. I never had any sort of grand calling for me to be a writer. I began purely out of indignation.

As a preteen, Barnes and Noble gift cards were the normal thing I received for Christmas, being at the odd age between getting toys and getting adult gifts. There was always a day sometime in mid January when we'd bundle up and head out to the book store and I'd spend an hour trying to figure out what to spend my 15-20 dollars on. I was very picky about what I wanted since I only had a limited amount to spend and I hated the idea of spending it on anything but something I really liked! Many of these visits ended with me leaving with a fine array of things from a full house sticker book one year to the book 'Little Women' which I got because of it's pretty front cover and the fact it came with a free necklace. Peter Pan, one of my other 'childhood' books was another purchase that happened because of the free necklace involved. Marketing plans like that always worked on my naive self :)

Robin Hood was a book I genuinely wanted to read after watching the 1938 version of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. While I didn't admire his strange hair and aptitude to wear tights (hey, I was eleven. It was a problem), I liked the idea of the story a lot. The man wronged who has to flee from everything he's ever known or loved but still manages to protect those he cares about, including the beautiful woman who loves him (what would the story be without Maid Marian?), and defeat evil in the end. A very typical plot to a story and the type that excited me. The book held much more fascination to me than the movie and I read it through in one day. It ended rather abruptly and I decided I needed to find a longer version of the story. As I remember, Marian actually wasn't mentioned at all in that book which was a bit of a disappoint for me.

Not long after, I bought a much thicker book and discovered there was a lot more to the Robin Hood stories than I'd ever known. I stayed up late several nights in a row to finish it and...was left with the worst thing I could have imagined! While it looks for a while like Robin Hood will end triumphant with Nottingham back under control and Marian by his side, Robin Hood is imprisoned by the now King John and hurts himself badly after trying to escape prison. He makes it to an abbey where the Mother Abbess nicely offers to help him, only to end up being evil and leaving his wounds to bleed out. During this time she has convinced Marian, who thinks Robin is dead, to become a nun. In the end Marian rushes to Robin's side right as he dies and that's the end.

I was incensed.

The next week, sitting at my brothers computer with the book open in front of me, I started to type out the book I'd just spent days reading, planning to keep it the same until the end where I would come up with my own ending (most likely a 'and they got rid of all the bad guys and lived happily ever after' moment). In the midst of this, I finished Peter Pan and found out that he didn't grow up. I was incensed again! I would do the same with that story except in the end, he was going to grow up and marry Wendy like he should've in the first place.

It wasn't until a few months later that my oldest sister recommended to me offhandedly that maybe I should try coming up with my own story instead of copying others. I was shocked at first, the thought of making up my own story to bizarre to even contemplate but then, it started to sink it. I wanted to write, I wanted to make stories with no deaths, no sad endings, and heroes who were undefeatable. Needless to say, I never finished my Robin Hood or Peter Pan projects but I've gone on to find things I like much more.They will most likely never see the success that either of those stories have seen, but I'm happy.

I'll write again about my actual writing projects in another post. This one seems to have gone long enough as it has. Oh, and for those who are actually curious, I do have Robin Hood and Peter Pan slated for being written at some point, most likely at the same time as I write my own version of the story of King Arthur :)

Anna Leigh

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