My first great story idea, I believe, came on a mundane Sunday morning. I was looking out of the kitchen window waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. My backyard, the same backyard I had looked at since before I can even remember, was slowly being lit up by the rising sun (it was an obnoxiously early time). My view was obstructed by the woods our little neighborhood was built right smack in the middle of that I spent countless hours in as a child. Thanks to a family that cleared out a chunk of my childhood adventures and built a beautiful, slightly creepy house mere yards from our property line, more of that magical early morning light filtered into our backyard. It cast a mysterious, almost ominous, glow of purples and pinks and oranges on everything it reached – the low hanging branches, the chain-link fence, the stacks of firewood. Something about the way the light looked through the trees, wrapping itself around the sky, struck something in me.
Because I’m an old soul and not completely sold on technology running everything, I ran to my room, grabbed my notebook and pen (or pencil; I don’t really remember anymore), and began scribbling as fast as I could. This is always the tricky part, getting everything down before my brain forgets it. It always feels like those cartoons where someone is writing so fast that the pen is smoking, but in reality you look more like a freshman college student trying to hammer out a paper an hour before it’s due. Like with most stories the words flew out of me like vomit onto the page… for about ten minutes. Then things got sticky. The word vomit turned into dribble, and it was like a cat and mouse game trying the find the right ones.
After hours of hair pulling, coffee guzzling, and staring at empty lines, I finished it… or so I thought. For some reason every time I start a new story I feel like I can skip the editing process. Newsflash: I’m always wrong. Editing is crucial to everything you write – stories, articles, essays. It molds and sculpts the baby idea you just labored over into something that shines.
By the time I got it all down, I was so thoroughly sick of looking at the piece that I typed it up, saved it, filed it away, and let my brain take a breather for a few days. When I came back and re-read it, I was disappointed. The grand story that had flown through my head… wasn’t on the page. So I took my chisel (pen) and began hacking away.
Removing any words that you’ve poured your heart and time into is always difficult. They are all a little part of you, but eventually you realize that some stuff is just unnecessary. Eliminate the dead words, the elements that do nothing to enhance your story.
The result was well worth the hours of slaving (editing). With a completely new ending and a storyline that actually flowed, I was happy… no, I was proud. Proud enough to send it to a few of my friends who responded with glowing reviews. After constantly being discouraged by the doubtful looks from people when I say “I’m a writer” and the degrading “What are you going to do with an English degree” question always being thrown at me, those reviews gave me the confidence I needed to stop putting myself down and truly follow my calling. I don’t know where my writing career will take me, but I do know that I can’t wait to experience the journey no matter how bumpy the ride may become.