This is the cover of the newest Harry Potter me and my friend decided to write and send to J.K. Rowling back in 2002. We thought it took way too long for J.K. to write the fifth book of the serie so we decided to take action – we would write the next book and send it to her for publishing, including a note that would say:
”Here you go, J.K. Rowling! You can publish this one and start writing on the next one!”
(Funny enough, the first chapter was very similar to the first chapter of the third Harry Potter. The name was also very original: Harry Potter and the Poisonous Snake)
Unfortunately, we never got past the first chapter. Maybe it was because we wrote it on paper with a pen instead of using a computer. And because it actually requires a lot of work to write a book. However, after all these years (it’s been 16 years – we were eight years old at the time) I still respect the effort. I mean, the cover is amazing, isn’t it?
Today I want to tell you about my early works. This book was one of the first ones that got started, and after that there’s been many different writing projects. So let’s dive into my early works of fiction!
Horse Stories and Fan Fiction
The first novel I remember writing independently was on my parents’ old-school computer, located in the basement of our house. It was a story about a girl who desperately wants to participate in a riding camp but can’t afford it, so she decides to do different projects to get money and save up for the camp. She would sell some of her things, do some cleaning, grass cutting and so on.
Even now I think the idea was great. I just never finished. I wonder if the story is still saved on that computer – the machine’s still in my parent’s basement.
After that I wrote several shorter stories. Many of them involved either horses or a mystery – the two subjects I was most passionate about at the time. On fourth grade I wrote a short story in school that was so great that I decided to turn it into a play. The script was about three pages long and took probably less then 15 minutes to perform on stage but my class rehearsed and did the play for two different audiences! This one was about a girl who becomes friends with a dragon and tries to save him from the people of the village who want to kill him, thinking he’s dangerous.
Many of the stories were never finished. They were everything between four and ten pages, some of them divided into four or eight parts. Some only got started when I already had a new idea in mind that I started to write on. I never published anything or sent any texts to magazines, although I thought of doing it. But in middle school I started to get into fan fiction.
I was still a huge fan of Harry Potter and found out that writing stories about characters that already existed and whom I loved was so much fun. I still have all of the short stories saved on my hard drive – they are over a hundred. Some of them consist of only 100 words but the longest fan fiction story I ever wrote, You, Me and Him, is over 100 pages long. Those years that I spent writing fan fiction were also the years when my writing improved a great deal. I was able to get active feedback and comments on my texts from other enthusiastic writers of fan fiction and felt as if I was a decent writer.
Unlike my earlier texts, these I published actively on a fan fiction forum. It was fun and gave me courage and motivation to write more and push myself to try different things and improve my writing, for instance when it came to what words I chose to use or how do develop my (or J.K. Rowling’s) characters.
Three Full-Length Novels
During and after my most active time as a writer of fan fiction, I also became curious about the National Novel Writing Month that takes place every year in November. I was tempted to try to write 50,000 words, a full-length novel, in only thirty days. I had never written anything of that length before – and decided to give it a try.
The first time I entered NaNoWrimo was in 2009. The story was called Harte and Agne, a story about a 15-year-old girl who becomes friends (and more than friends) with a man who is six years older than she is. I got a great start that year and wrote almost 20,000 words, but I had a lot of emotional issues to deal with at the time, and never finished the story.
After that I had two successful years in a row – in 2010, I wrote A Hundred-Year-Old Railroad, finishing with 50 087 words (although I only got halfway in the story) and in 2011, Hear Me Roar On The Inside with 50 146 words (3/4’s of the story written). I am really proud of both of them, because 1) I managed to write over 50,000 words in a month, and 2) they are stories located in worlds that I really loved creating.
However, in 2011 I started dating my first boyfriend and forgot about writing. I didn’t really write anything proper for five years. The relationship ended in 2013 and after that I just didn’t have the motivation and self-discipline to sit down and write. I tried to participate in NaNoWriMo in 2012, 2014 and 2015 but never managed to write more than 2,000 to 3,500 words.
Studying my rate of failures, I started to think that maybe fictional writing wasn’t for me after all. I loved to write but fiction didn’t seem to work for me so I thought ”maybe I should focus on factual writing instead.” So I didn’t even try to keep up my writing, focusing on other things instead.
But in Fall 2016, when I was in Galway, Ireland as an exchange student, I decided to give NaNoWriMo one more try. I had gotten an idea from one of the drivers of the tourist buses, telling a legend of a curse that one of the Irish soccer teams has on them, and because of which they haven’t won a single championship in fifty years. So that November I wrote 1,667 words every day, finishing both the contest and the story on November 30th with 50,291 words.
It felt great, it felt as if I had really accomplished something. But I also felt deflated and didn’t have the energy to start writing anything more regularly. After writing a full-length novel it felt as if I had given everything I had, and didn’t find the energy, motivation or even ideas to write more.
That led to another break in writing for more than a year.
A Fresh Start
In February this year, I was feeling extremely frustrated at my life. I had the feeling I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do with my life. Instead, I was doing something that didn’t have any value to me, only forcing myself to do it day after day. I was a painful partner to have, I knew that, with all the negativity and complaining and frustration that I was dealing with.
But then my partner suggested to me that I would sit down every day and write for half an hour, thirty minutes. No more, no less. It could be anything – writing fiction, fact or a diary. I decided to give it a go and realized soon that this was one of the most fulfilling things I had done in a long while. I felt joyous satisfaction for using my imagination and twisting words into sentences that created sentences with a meaning.
I began by writing diary-like texts about my life but after a few weeks I changed my direction to fiction and started writing a full-length novel about an idea I had been thinking about for the past month.
This time fictional writing gave me the kind of pleasure I hadn’t experienced in a long time. There was no time-pressure, simply the requirement of writing thirty minutes five times a week. Sometimes I wrote 500 words, sometimes up to 900, depending on the day. And I kept on doing that for almost six months.
After I quit my job, that is a month ago, I’ve been able to dedicate to my writing more time than before. And that’s on the way I’m now – writing two blog posts and a short story in a week plus working on my book. And let me tell you, it feels good to dedicate this much time to something I really love to do.
Becoming A Published Author
I wanted to become an author when I was only nine years old. But for the past 12 years I’ve had trouble believing that I could actually become one and have therefore been searching for other career alternatives. I’ve tried working in a café, as a communicator for an organization and as a newspaper and radio journalist – always thinking this is what I want to do, only to find out that this isn’t fulfilling, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.
Now I’m trying to re-establish my belief in becoming a published author. It’s not the easiest thing to believe in but nothing gives me as much fulfillment as this kind of writing does – and that makes me think that there’s something in here, something worth working for.
On Thursday I’ll talk about becoming an author – or how one can become one. At least according to a published author I talked with. See you then!