My Life In Writing


Today I am going to tell you all about where my writing of fiction began, where it developed, all the way up to where I am am now.

Grade One:
The first time I ever picked up a felt-tip pen and wrote my first story was sometime in Grade One. At that time I was seven years old (as is common in Australia). My first stories were very short and minimalistic. There were no settings, no plots, only characters and their situations. These stories were based on either experiences I'd had, or experiences I wished to have. My friend and I would collaborate on stories. He used to want to be a train driver, so we would write stories about him being a train driver. I always wanted to have powers, so I would write stories in which I had them.

The first story I wrote which had a unique (albeit shallow) character whose name I didn't take from someone or something I knew was called "The Whole New World". Does that title remind you at all of Aladin? So, this character named Cersty (Kirsty) had powers, and she fought her sister and won. Then she travelled the world fighting many evil people, and eventually she lost. Then she went to heaven, and references were made to Moses, Jesus and Mary. I don't remember if she ended up staying in heaven or going home. It was written nearly ten years ago after all.

Grade Two:
Grade Two was perhaps my proudest year. I wrote a story with a plot in a small notebook called "A Magical World". This was back when I was reading Harry Potter for the first time, and a lot of inspiration came from that. The setting was a castle where witches and wizards were trained. There were three friends: Sam, Peter and Ashley. Firstly I wrote Sam's story, which was three parts. I completed that. Then I wrote Peter's story, and that also had three parts. I completed that. They were each sixteen pages long. I came to Ashley's story, though, and only reached four pages before I stopped writing. The last word I wrote on "A Magical World" was and.

The perfect cliffhanger.

Grade Three:
I wrote nothing as notable in Grade Three, but I continued to devise short stories that were mostly unfinished.

Grade Four:
I began to rewrite "A Magical World". This rewrite was completely fresh. The names were changed to James Pendower, Mitchell Buller and Misty Peppermill. There is no shade or sliver of the plot of the two-year-old original to be found. But it drew countlessly more parallels to Harry Potter. When I say countlessly, I mean there were so many parallels that it is in fact funny. Apart from the talented main character, the not-so-talented male friend and the very talented female friend, the school itself is a blatant Harry Potter reference.

Pigsnouts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I had some original ideas, though, whether bad or horrible. Like the under-developed Quidditch replacement, which I called Forequest. Students would fly on Unicorns and fight mid-air with swords. Wait! Unicorns don't fly! Also, in Transformation class (Transfiguration) students were taught to merge with their Unicorn to become a Centaur.

Towards the end, for no given reason the Manager (Headmaster) makes the children the Manager's Assistants. They help to take down the evil Logan Cuesty on Mayfair Island (Monopoly). James uses his knowlege of the elements to battle him, but in the end Cuesty gives up. He gives a device to the Manager, saying it will show him where all the evil wizards are. Then Misty spontaneously remembers that it is her birthday tomorrow.

The next day they have a birthday party for Misty and Logan Cuesty is there, laughing with them as though he had been their friend the whole time. I don't think I was going to write much more than that, but it stopped there. I never got to write "The End".

In the whole story I never went into description of the setting, and nor did I write any interior monologue. It was in first person, too. At the time I stopped writing it it was just over ten thousand words.

Grade Five:
Early year five. Eleven years old. I wrote a story in a completely unique world, as in a world that was like Earth, but was not Earth. I called it World War. Here is an excerpt:

I picked up the phone and dialed the number. It felt very odd; there was a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach. The Richelieu was going to fight against the Abonasians. The city of Osmocryland, Richelieu, was going to face the city of Nalyrk, Abonasia, and then venture down to the city of Mothorituar, Richelieu, and then face Fialmu, Abonasia.

I wrote only four pages of that story.

Towards the end of the year my friend suggested a collaboration story involving pirates. I quickly agreed and we began to brainstorm plot ideas.

Grade Six:
During the hoidays before i started Grade Six I worked on the new story, "British Pirate". The thing is, I never did any research. The novel was horribly historically incorrect, with crossovers between pirates and Vikings. This time each chapter was exactly three pages long in a Word document. Still, my characterization improved, and I entered interior monologue a few times. I described the setting more as well, and got an idea for how to set out dialogue.

Year Seven:
During this year I continued to work on "British Pirate".

Year Eight:
I didn't quite get near the end, and stopped writing it at around twenty-two thousand, three-hundred words. For as slow a writer as I was back then, I got pretty far.

Year Nine:
It was possibly towards the end of the school holidays when I came up with the idea for a new story. I think the first thing that came into my head was the title: Until They Unite. In my mind this was the One that finally had a chance at being published, with a plot that was interesting enough for people to keep reading, charcacters that were believable and an actual backstory. A world that was interesting and different from the one we know. I created a language, which was simply a code of switched alphabetic letters, and called it Hewa (mine). Brec ec ha, c'xaypewz Hewa. I really don't like that anymore; it looks horrid. I now prefer just to make the language up, on a basis of Latin. So for different regions I can have something more Italian, or something more Germanic, French or Spanish.

Alas, once more I failed to complete the story. I had it all planned out, but somewhere along the way I lost confidence in myself. I stopped writing Until They Unite at nineteen-thousand, three-hundred words, sometime early 2009.

Year Ten:
This was the beginning of my current work-in-progress. One day in March I had a cold and took the day off from school (which I rarely do). It was incredible. I lay there in bed, my eyes closed as I tried to rest, and an image popped into my head. It was an image of a girl in a cave, standing by a mystical, glowing stalagmite. There was a great flash of light as she touched the stalagmite, and she had now absorbed the light. The fact that she had this light would change her life. She was no longer safe.

I have much to say about Aundes Aura, so you can look forward to that in my next post.

Finally I believe I have a story with enough backstory, enough depth of world, enough depth of character. The characters have their own histories, enough that I could tell the story from a completely different perspective. I have been writing this since September, and already I am past nineteen-thousand words. I am speeding past my other attempts, laughing as I go.

These past ten years have all been leading up to this.

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4 comments:

zellakate said...

Ryan, this was neat. You started quite early and have been consistent with it. :)

My first story was a dreadful attempt to be funny that involved a damsel in distress, a noble but clueless hero, a stolen necklace, and French villains with suspiciously English names. Hehe I was seven - it was a mess. :D

Ryan Sullivan said...

So we started at the same time. *smiles* That's interesting. My aim for this year is at least to pass 50,000 words. I really hope I can do it, because my longer stories have never made it far past 20,000. If I can pass 50,000 words I think I could reach my goal.

Jean Davis said...

Hmm, my first story was about rabbits and their warren being overpopulated. I also remember being facinated with the movie of Watership Down that was on TV around the same time. Coincidence? ;)

Math Is A Plentiful Harvest said...

I am not a fiction writer at all, but I can still empathize with this interesting post. For me poetry has been a more accepting avenue of expression (it is shorter!); I began to write poetry at the tender age of eleven, although I wrote countless mediocre elementary stories before that. I think my first "acceptable" poem was a really, really bad Shakespearean ripoff.
I guess the struggle to find your own voice is a dilemma every writer encounters, but I think w/ sufficient practice, one pulls through. When the intent and effort is there, the project comes to fruition; I think your story will eventually turn out great.

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

Here at The Dark Corner, Real Life is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Look to him for inspiration, but don't let him get in the way too much.

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