In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.
For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages!
Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.
Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.
In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.
It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.
It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.
I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). Isn’t that how it usually goes?
I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.
My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.
I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.
I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.
I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.
If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.
It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.
© Copyright August 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.