Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Past is the Past...or is it?

I can't clearly remember what day it was I decided I wanted to be a writer.  I don't know if it was rainy or sunny, warm or cold.  I don't remember when I went from wanting to write to wanting to have my work acknowledged by more than just myself.  Or when writing started to be so much a part of me, it felt wrong if a day passed and I didn't write something.

My first completed novel was called Ordinary People and centered around a girl named Sharon Smith.  It was written in third person.  Sharon's working a summer job and when she's returning papers to an office, she overhears her boss talking about something suspicious.  She's found out and runs away - conveniently running right into a guy who helps her out.  The guy is none other than the charming (and of course good looking) Johnny McKenna.  For those curious, this novel started at that ripe, mature age of fourteen.  And her name became Sharon far after I started.  Her name was originally Anna.  Johnny was the proud owner of...nope...wait for it...his own spaceship.  It was a small little thing with an interestingly lit interior and parts held together with duct tape.  Sharon ends up on a big spaceship (not the one Johnny owns) after walking through an unassuming doorway in an office Johnny took her too.  This ship was run by a rather unfriendly captain who informed Sharon of her reasons for being chosen to come aboard, reasons I can't remember but would probably cringe at if I dug through the graveyard of notebooks under my bed and unearthed the one with that story.

Sci-Fi Bedroom: sci fi city 3d model #Sci-FiBedroom #scificity3dmodelI had the trilogy planned.  The first book involved her finding her father who was the true captain of the spaceship.  The second would involve her training to become an agent with hopes that Johnny would join the crew. He was a freelancer with his own spaceship who didn't really want to be a part of the main ship after his initial helpfulness in bringing Sharon aboard.  At the end of the second book, Johnny was set to "die", thus leaving the heroine in a tough spot where she had to harden and get past the shock.  The third book, of course, would follow his miraculous recover and his memory loss.

I'm sure you've felt enlightened knowing all about this past book which exists only in notebook pages and which will never make a miraculous comeback Johnny style.  I'm bringing it up as an example to show a bit more about where I am now.  Johnny had some serious Doctor Who like aspects, Sharon was far too brave and yet too dumb for the circumstances, there was no good explanation as to why her dad was hanging out in a seedy part of town and had never contacted her, and biggest of all, no real reason why Sharon was worth anything more than the daughter of Echo-Star's captain (yes, that was the name.  Now stop laughing).  Just like my books started out as rewritings of Peter Pan and Robin Hood, my work was a bad rip off of things I'd watched and read.

Only Human started as a sproutling of an idea.  A question I'd read online about which super power I'd choose if I'd have a chance.  It made me start wondering about how bad it would be to have an ability that couldn't be controlled.  That would be a curse, not a blessing.  My first attempt was in a book about a girl named Alex who was dragged into a back alley and given drugs so she had super human strength.  That gem didn't make it past the first chapter.  I moved on to a new project; one about a girl named Abby Lee who had the ability to read minds.  That one did get past the first chapter.

If I'm being totally honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Only Human.  The story itself is fine but the characters read a bit flat and I'm always looking for a way to change that.  I've put several major edits into it and yet, I'm sure there will be more in the future.  Even so, I learned so much on that book and tried so many things that failed.  One of the things I liked the most about it was its originality.  Not that there aren't other books out there like it but that I came up with the ideas and figured out the story on my own.

It's a little harder to hold my head up about my current manuscript.  I did a lot to step away from the heavy influence of other books and movies for Only Human.  I read two books in two years while I was writing Only Human so I could keep the voices of other writers out of my head.  After coming all that way, I'm now taking someone else's story again.  I know that the King Arthur legend is open for interpretation and open for anyone to use but I can't help this little part of me that keeps saying its not my story.  That I'm twenty years old and still copying off someone else.  Maybe that's why this book is so important to me.  I want to get it right and I want to prove to myself that I've moved on from my Peter Pan days.

-Anna Leigh

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