You Can Learn A lot From A Small Success

I abandon my babies.  It’s despicable. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember and I want to stop. They’re living breathing entities aren’t they? Why would I do that?

When I say ‘babies’, I of course stories.

Yes that’s right –  I am the master of starting stories that I don’t finish!

I get ideas mostly at night (at that dead hour when you can’t sleep and start to realise there IS something lurking in the corner).

I’ve only started, very recently, to get into the habit of writing ideas down and transferring them to my computer.

Now I know that it’s common. Writers come up with ideas all the time. They probably disgard half of them thinking they are too far fetched, unrealistic or downright embarrassing.

Or even because they believe they’ve made a complete mess of a really cool concept. That they didn’t do it justice.

That’s my biggest fear as a writer. To come up with a really kickass story – and then write it in such a way, that it’s better in my head than on paper.

To me that’s a tragedy.

You want to write it so it’s EXACTLY like you envision it in your head.

So people can smell every scent, feel every chill and love every character as you do in your heart and mind. That’s the challenge of every writer.

The only time I managed to do that was with one story of mine. It’s getting a small measure of success at the moment and so I’ve decided to break it down.

It’s a teenage novel – a science fiction tale – that has recently been picked up as a concept for an animated short (* awkwardly high fives myself*).

I’m currently in the second draft of the novel which is going well as well.

I think there are several reasons why this is my biggest success to date and…why I stuck to it!

1. The story, characters and theme came from a personal place.

There’s no dodging this one. ‘Write what you know’. For this story in question, I  wrote each character as an extension of me (not entirely..juuuust a bit).

My main protagonist is a Eurasian (like me). She’s migrated to a different country at the beginning of the story (England to me!). And has the same insecurities and ‘flaws’ …as me.

Now we aren’t carbon copies but it sure did help. It was also science fiction, which is ME (proud Treky over here).

The theme of the tale, which I felt I needed to define in one sentence, was also very personal; my views on family, parents and the meaning of home.

2. It tapped into what I WANTED to see (as an adult and child)

There’s no point in writing a story that you wouldn’t read. There’s no point in making a film you wouldn’t fork out $10 for at the cinema to watch.

Make something that excites you. On numerous levels.

This story, the world and the characters have kept me up since I was 8 years old. Harness that energy.

3. I took my time.

I don’t believe in rushing stories and writing them. There’s nothing worst than getting the feeling that something is written in a hurry, with mistakes, gaping plot holes and a lack of fastidiousness.

It’s taken me a good fifteen years to create this world – in all of its different incarnations and versions.

I’ve streamlined it over the years and now have a solid skeleton that I’m proud of. It was tough but above all– fun!

You have to believe in your story first (no matter how far fetched it may seem).

Take care in the world you create. Take even more care in the characters. Listen to people’s comments.

These are the profound links that will connect your words with the reader. That’s really where all the magic comes from.

I have no real big successes to talk about yet. No book deal. No official website or avid readers queuing up to read my latest work just yet.

However, I’ve learned that it doesn’t take big success to learn a lot.

Start small. Perfect small. The rest comes later.


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