The Journey of a Lifetime

It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I took that first step on April 1, 2010. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I started to think to myself about what my ideal romantic hero would be like in my dream novel. What would he do? What would he say? Where would he be from? One feature stood out in my mind: Wings. He would have to fly.

There is something beautiful and poetic about the metaphor of flight. Angels fly. Fairies fly. Eagles fly. Pegasus flies. There are so many gorgeous creatures that are known for flight, and in my mind they are always both strong and delicate, fearsome and gentle.

I’ve always been taken with the idea of “what if” when it comes to flight… specifically, what if humans could fly? What a perfect way to get around, what a lovely way to see the world. I can remember reading the story of Icarus & Daedalus in middle school and being captivated with the idea of humans achieving flight. I’ve read novels about angels, novels about shape-shifters, novels about superheroes… and the one common feature that intrigues me is the ability to fly.

Anyway, Kendrick was born out of the idea that my ideal romantic hero would have to fly. After that, it was a fun exploration of diving deeper into his character. Okay, so he can fly. But where is he from? How does he fly? Why does he fly? Why the heck is he on Earth? Who does he meet here? What’s his personality like? How old is he? What’s his backstory?

I decided he would be good. Truly good. None of this scary-alien-come-to-take-over-the-world stuff. He is beautiful, kind, smart, and brings out the best in others. However, he’s got one major flaw, as all heroes do. He can’t produce a child, and that greatly diminishes his worth, at least where he is from.

Savannah was fairly easy to come up with. Surprisingly, she’s not “me”. I didn’t try to imagine myself falling in love with Kendrick. I tried to imagine WHO would fall in love with Kendrick, and WHO he would fall in love with. (I’m much more suited to Conner, if truth be told.) I always knew it would be Savannah’s story, even though she is only 1/3 of the narration. The human has to hold some weight, and she can do that through starting and finishing the story.

Conner is more of an amalgamation of me than anyone else in the story. No, not because he’s a teacher or a reader, although that certainly helps.  Conner thinks with his heart first; he is impulsive and passionate, tortured and always wanting more. He tries to rise above his situation but just can’t get it right. He is the most real to me out of all the characters, because he messes up so much but his heart is in the right place.

The rest of the characters just came to me very naturally. They would speak, and I would hear them. There was no Landon or Roma originally, but I am so SO glad they fought their way into the novel. They are so much fun to write.

Fidel & Norana were always there, and always meant to be minor characters, although they grew into their own throughout the novel, too. Fidel is one of my loves; I wish I could write more about him. I just feel so bad for him and want to reach out and give him a hug every time I think about him. Norana… well, I can’t go into much detail here, but she has a bright future ahead. She deserves it.

Chloe… Chloe had to be there because I can’t make it easy for Savannah & Kendrick. Realistically, Savannah is Conner’s, and it would be weird (I think) for Kendrick to intervene. Whether Savannah admits it or not, she & Conner have a strong tie to each other that can’t be ignored. Chloe makes it easy(er) for Kendrick to not pursue Savannah. **edit on 7/28/11: the novel has since been reworked & Chloe has been reduced to a very minor character. Pursue Savannah all you want, Kendrick!

So, on April 1, 2010, I thought to myself, “What if…?” and went to town writing the novel. Thankfully, I was on spring break and had about 50 pages done by the Sunday night before I had to go to work. This little project became an obsession then and it took over all my time. I found myself searching for any excuse to sit and write, and on a good weekend I would get 20-30 pages done. I brought my laptop to work and would write on my lunch break. I went on long walks and listened to moody music to put myself in the right frame of mind. I talked (CONSTANTLY) in my head, having conversations between all of my characters. I acted out scenes in my house when my husband wasn’t home. I would drive to work and interview myself out loud on my characters, just so I could know every little thing about them. Most of all, I just listened. I let the characters talk to me and most of time they would write everything themselves. Scenes I hadn’t even thought of would pop into my head and I would feel like, “Oh, my God! So THAT’S why he’s like that. Of course!” Sometimes I would try to force my characters to say something, and I swear they’d fight me on it. An example- I never wanted Savannah to kick Kendrick out of the house. I tried to change that, but it didn’t work. She had to get him out to move along certain relationships. And I could almost hear her protest that her loyalty would be to Conner, not to Kendrick, despite everything that had happened. **edit on 7/28/11- Kendrick still leaves Savannah’s house, but in a different way, per the rewrite.

It felt like the journey ended on July 10, 2010, when I finished the novel, but that’s not true. That’s just when the next phase began: the hunt for guest readers. Talk about terrifying! I remember my dad was the first one to pick up the novel and start reading it, and to my horror, he read it IN FRONT OF ME! I almost vomited when I saw him reading it. I was so afraid of hearing “ummm, it kinda sucks” that I thought I would pass out. I didn’t even tell anyone the plot because I was so nervous of hearing that it sounded stupid. At this point, my heart and soul was poured onto 450 pages about three characters I deeply adored. Even if it never gets published, Savannah, Kendrick, & Conner are completely real to me, and I love them fiercely.

Thankfully, my guest readers were awesome and gave very constructive criticism, for which I am so grateful. Now I am entrenched in the “find an agent” stage (another totally vomit-inducing situation), and it isn’t easy. It is time-consuming, laborious, and results in way too much fingernail-chewing.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Looking for an agent means I’ve written a novel, and that is something I’ve wanted to accomplish since I was seven years old. Thanks to the internet, people actually know about Kendrick even though he’s never made it inside a bookstore. That in itself blows my mind.

Hopefully, this exhilarating journey is nowhere near over. As long as I can dream, I can write. As long as I can write, I can pursue. As long as I can pursue, I have a chance. As long as I have a chance, I have something to hold on to. There are 3 weeks left ’til I am “supposed” to hear from the agent who requested my novel. I pray every day that she will find something in it worth publishing. It feels so good to have that chance to hold on to. Regardless of the outcome, no one can take that away from me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *