Writing is hard.
Anyone who writes knows that. When you’re young its easier. You don’t understand exactly what you’re undertaking. You don’t know about stereotypes or cliches or representation. You’ve probably read a lot, so you know what stories you like. Inadvertently (or vertently) you imitate those stories, maybe make yourself the main character, and its all super fun.
With age, with education, comes awareness.
Much like how people grow into feeling shame about their naked bodies (depending on your upbringing), you grow ashamed of your old work. Its the literary equivalent of looking at photos your parents took of you as a toddler running around naked. No one needs to see that, certainly not anyone you want to take you seriously as an adult.
While some people burn their old work (or delete, as it would be in this new digital world), other people instead like to keep it locked away, as a reminder of how far they’ve come. Some others post these juvenile representations on the internet for all the world to see, but you’d have to be very sure of yourself for that sort of confidence.
The first time I started writing somewhat seriously, I was around 12 or so years old. It was a grand tale about 4 characters (myself and the 3 people I considered my closest friends…even though in real life they weren’t. The joys of being an awkward loner) with amazing magical powers and also Spyro the dragon. Twelve year old me wasn’t too familiar with the concept of copyright.
It was a high fantasy tale, wherein I tackled my first battle scene and my talking pet dog and eagle companions fought valiantly for victory. I couldn’t tell you anything more than that as I don’t actually remember and I don’t really wish to revisit it.
I then discovered fanfiction. I dove head-first into a number of beloved fandoms; Harry Potter, Avatar the Last Airbender, Harvest Moon, Harry Potter (I wrote a lot of HP stuff) and even the slightly more obscure like Jane and the Dragon. I loved the immediacy of the feedback, posting chapters and then waiting overnight for my inbox to fill up with messages of support. It was addictive, in some ways. I very rarely received anything negative (you probably have to be quite popular to attract trolls). My longest running (and coincidentally last) fanfic was an Assassins Creed story. I was still working on it through my first degree at uni, before eventually abandoning it, as tended to happen. But these were my most productive writing years. I would update chapters weekly, set schedules around completing these tasks. Creating great writing habits, that I’ve now since lost completely.
At the start of my first degree, I was catching a bus to Uni when I had a new story idea; a superhero novel that focused on the sidekick. And the main Hero would be all stereotypical Superman-esque, my protagonist bitter at being stuck in his shadow, fighting for recognition in her own right.
It wasn’t completely original a concept (I had most definitely seen and loved Sky High when it came out), but I was back into superhero fiction, mostly shows like No Heroics and the NZ The Superfriends (or something like that. idk it’s been years), and I knew that while superhero fiction dominated comics, there was a lot less out there in novels. It was a niche. Little did I know how this popularity would grow (thanks to the phenomenon of Marvel movies). I consumed it all, and still do. Anything superhero-y is right up my alley. But I wasn’t so into all the action and fight scenes–no, I loved superhero fiction for the political analogies; Xmen and it’s race/holocaust allegory, Batman and it’s class wars. I also loved the crazy costumes and wacky characters. But most importantly, I loved the mundane moments. I love taking these hyper-powered people and placing them in ordinary situations. This is what makes Joss Whedon’s movies so successful; not so much the flashy action or chase scenes (please stop with the chase scenes), but it’s Thor trying to hang up Mjölnir on a coat rack, or Captain America struggling to learn about modern culture. It’s the small moments, the fish-out-of-water comedy that ironically humanizes these superhumans. That’s what I want for my novel.
I started my first draft in 2009, and finished it in 2014. Yep, you read that right. And it’s a disaster. A frankenstein of different writing styles and terrible ideas and defunct plot points and sudden character changes and it’s 120k words long. I hesitate to even call it a complete draft, because it’s not even cohesive.
And this is where I am now, trying to piece it together, re-write as I go. Editing is far more difficult than writing (because Editing IS writing but without the reckless abandon). All the writing guides talk about how to write, but very few tell you how to edit. There are no guides, no hands to hold, no check-box stages. You simply have to do it.
Having completed NaNoWriMo numerous times successfully, I know it doesn’t always have to be this bad. Turns out if you write a draft all at once rather than spreading it our over several years so your ideas change hundreds of times, your first draft can be rather cohesive. I predict fixing those up will be a much better time than this (also they’re much shorter).
But this is where I am now. This is my task for at least the next 6 months. I may take a break in November to write a new novel first draft (I’ve got several ideas on the back burner already), but other than that, this shall be my sole focus.
In order to motivate myself, I shall be posting chapters of me new draft on Wattpad, in the hopes of attracting a readership who will encourage me with comments and feedback, just like with my FanFic days. I can’t promise a regular schedule yet, but if you’re there and want to follow me, do so here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/82359268-almost-super
So this is me. I would like for this to be my debt novel. Maybe I’ll read this post back in a year or two and smile, knowing I’ve made it.