Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest: How I Decided Writing Was the Best Form of Self-Flagellation

Happy Origins Blogfest Day. This holiday is second only to Groundhog Day in importance. Check out DL Hammons' bog, Cruising Altitude2.0, to learn who else is participating. You can read about how they all became superheroes.
The Wolverine
Wait, that's not it. How they became writers.

My own story started when I was about 12 years old. (Insert "Wayne's World" flashback effect parody.)

The class had just read Bridge to Terabithia by Catherine Paterson, a novel used, pre-Harry Potter, to teach kids that their favorite characters can indeed die. We were to write a fantasy about our own secret place. I wrote about a mythical land whose portal was through the back of my closet. If I was ripping off C.S. Lewis's Narnia entryway, I can hardly be blamed. After all, Catherine Paterson had to have Terebinthia--one of Narnia's islands--in mind when she wrote her book.

My story was plotless, but contained scores of unicorns and rainbows. Thus, my career as an author began. At the end of the school year, we were to write our own obituary. (Teachers were allowed to be morbid in those days.) I described my life as a famous writer and the awards I received. Oddly, "The Stylish Blogger Award" wasn't among them.

Soon, hormones kicked in and my dreams of publication ended. I realized my writing sucked and my time was better spent taping Duran Duran posters to the walls.
Duran Duran
That is until (drum roll) I read Ish by Peter H. Reynolds, with my little twins. You don't have to draw a perfect car, it just has to be car-ish, etc.

I drew comic strips of my teenage daughter's adventures with Doctor Who and Sirius Black, and comics about Mad-Eye Moody's life story. Armed with the knowledge that my illustrations only had to be David Tennant-ish and Diagon Alley-ish, my confidence grew.
My Early Attempts at Drawing Characters
The stories became so involved, I expanded them, doing away with the pictures. So my career (used loosely) as a fanfiction writer began. I learned something about writing at this time and my skills improved... kind of.

When my husband suggested, not so delicately, that I write an original story that I could actually sell, with sassy defiance I said, "Fine. Maybe I will." I wrote Syzygy.
Cover artwork by my niece, Jasmine.
I learned loads about writing, including "Think a bit harder about your plot from the beginning to avoid the need for plot-hole spackling," and "If you listen to too many critiquers, you'll go bonkers trying to reconcile forty-two opposing opinions."
Saint Justina with Unicorn
I still have some pre-adolescence in me. My WIP, Twelve Keys, like my childhood story, contains a unicorn.


Creepy Query Girl said...

I think alot of writers start out in fanfiction. Sometimes a story is just 'where you want to be' and there's not enough of it to last. So you create more:) Loved learning about your writing origins!

Miranda Hardy said...

I can imagine what you must have thought after reading bridge to terabithia. Glad you got into your magical worlds.

Freya Morris said...

I've never considered fanfiction before - sounds amazing and loadsa fun.

farawayeyes said...

Interesting,fun and informative. Anyone who 'decided writing was the best form of self-flagellation',should be a friend of mine.

Thanks. I'll be back.

M.J. Fifield said...

My first fantasy story contained talking unicorns, pterodactyls and pop tarts. Since then, I've lost the pterodactyls and pop tarts but I kept the unicorns.

Happy writing...

Kara Hartz said...

I think I ripped off Little House in the Big Woods for one of my first Elementary School writing assignments. I think I called it Little Cabin in the Woods or something so very original like that. But , hey, I guess we have to learn somewhere. May as well learn from the greats!

Joylene said...

I was a bit of a nerd, I'm thinking. I was off reading Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens, and Nancy Drew. I've never even heard of fanfiction before. Boy, am I a country pumpkin or what!

This was a great post. Thanks Amanda!

Intricate Knot said...

I love your "origins" tale! Hilarious! You had me with "You can read about how they all became superheros." Hey, we writers ARE better than superheros! We can create, destroy, and save worlds...all at the same time. Really looking forward to checking out your future posts. You have a new follower (me!). :)

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Thank you all for commenting! You're all so sweet. Happy Writing and Happy Valentine's Day!

DL Hammons said...

I'm learning that Fan Fiction is a fertile breeding ground for some truly talented writers! I'm glad you used it to your advantage! Thank you for sharing your ORIGIN with us. :)

Amanda Borenstadt said...

And thank you for dropping by, DL! :)

Li said...

I think a lot of us started out writing careers at a young age, by ripping off other ideas. But hey, you have to start somewhere, and why not "fix up" stories that could use a little tweaking? (I can think of several TV shows that definitely needed better story lines and endings, as well as books.)

nutschell said...

I think most fantasy writers begin with unicorns and rainbows. :)
Great to meet you on this blogfest.

your newest follower,

Scarlett said...

LOVE the title of your blog, Amanda!

And, SO Funny! You clearly have spunk, a talent for writing, and a wild imagination.

Cannot wait to read more!
Cool to *meet* you here in the Fest!

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