So there I was trying to take a nap because I’m either coming down with something nasty or have finally developed allergies — Hopefully I’m just getting sick. I really don’t want to look forward to a seasonal allergy every year — when I opened my eyes and saw something strange on my bookshelf.
Do you see it there? Right between Jennifer Crusie and the Fantasy Reference Guide …
It’s an old hardback notebook. I kept squinting at it, trying to figure it out what in blazes it was when it hit me; it was the first notebook my mother ever gave me. I’d already shown an interest in writing with “Noises Next Door” and “Noises in the Night” so she bought me this notebook to write in.
Author’s note: I was like twelve when I wrote those stories, people. The titles are bound to suck. And trust me, the stories were awful, too.
So I got up and pulled out that book and started reading the whole six chapter story I wrote in the sixth grade.
It’s title? Quest for Bravery … (with “bravery” spelled wrong, no less.)
I used far too much punctuation and too many people were shouting, and for reasons I can’t understand I actually chose to write in cursive. (I don’t think anyone writes in cursive anymore. Not straight cursive, anyway. I use a bastardized cursive-plain-text-print myself because I know that nobody else has a chance of understanding it. It’s called author security.)
The story was about a girl — yes, I’ve always written strong female fighters — who, for reasons I don’t explain in the story, is beholden to a wizard. Said Wizard’s name was Henry because that was the oldest sounding name I could come up with at the time. (Again, I was twelve. And anyway, aside from Prince Henry how many “Henry’s” do you know that aren’t getting up there in years?)
So anyway, the girl in the story was named Amanda Forcalmer (points to me for not using my own name that time) and she basically served Wizard Henry. And for six whole chapters she got to meet a prince, fight a dragon, save a princess and then leave said prince. (Again, points to me for not writing a romance.)
It was really horrible writing-wise and I laughed as I read it.
And then I started thinking about how many quests I have been privileged to go on both in my real life and in my writing life. In real life I have jumped in the ocean in Alaska (that’s cold, by the way), swam in the Caribbean twice, lived in Hawaii, traveled from coast to coast, and been in the Army. While none of those can be categorized as a “quest” per se, it has been an adventure in learning who I am as a person.
In my writing life I’ve quested for the Ebony Blade in Sedition, fought against prejudice and for the safety of family in Saboteur. I’ve hunted for nobility in Witch-Born and learned how fickle Fate can be in Dead Magic. I confronted the demons of inner self in Deviation and am neck-deep in the quest for self-understanding in Persona as we speak.
And I’m only 34 years old.
We writers tend to bemoan how lonely our jobs can be. We set out to tell a tale that no one else can. We might get research and inspiration from the people around us, but in the end we’re alone as we write it. And yes, the solitary act of writing can be hard sometimes. But it is totally worth it.
Because we writers are uniquely blessed. We have quests like no one else in the world. We create worlds in order to draw out and pinpoint certain aspects of human character. We see reality differently. We see people and what motivates them because we understand that the underlying motivation is what dictates what we do as human beings.
So if you’re a writer then embrace that solitary time. Take that quest that no one else can and share it.