Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How and Why I Started Writing

I started writing my first book when I was 18.



I wasn't a big reader. I faked my way through the books and exams in high school English. I didn't read a book start to finish until The Davinci Code. I loved it. It took me a whole year.

I think I've read a lot of books now, but I feel vastly underread when compared to other readers. Nonetheless, after reading the Harry Potter books, I was inspired to fulfill my childhood dream which was:

I used to write silly stories for all my family members when I was a kid. I just loved it. Using my imagination, creating worlds, developing characters.

Why I started writing:
It was a form of therapy.
I was actually going through the rockiest years of my life and I was in a lot of pain. To me, writing was remedial.
I could express myself and tell my secrets through my writing. I could base characters on me or my struggles and then write their successes. I vicariously lived through that success to keep me going in my dark moments. I could also exaggerate the characters' failures to purge some of my pain.

Being creative was just a bonus.

How I started writing:
Well I would sit at my laptop sometimes 12 hours straight. Through day and night.
I had to get in the zone which I believe takes about an hour. After that, words and scenes and ideas just poured out onto page.

Of course I had to do massive rewrites and edits, but writing came super easy to me. I rarely faced writers block or a lack of an idea. I never wanted to just fill a page with a bland scene to take up a chapter. I never wanted to waste a word. I tried my hardest to emulate the authors I loved and the writing styles I favor, yet create something original.

In my book, Og, I think I discuss some topics that are more rare, like rape and alcoholism. I grace over them so I don't lose my young adult audience, but my main character is quite the glutton. Why did I write about this? And how? 

Truthfully, I used to be a heavy drinker. It is the reason I volunteer for the Addiction Recovery Program. I dumped plenty of personal experiences into this character and her drinking problems. It is ugly and makes most readers uncomfortable. I've even had two reviewers flat out DISLIKE the main girl and say it ruined the book...but I think that's because the behavior of the girl is wretched at times and the readers felt that. As an author, this makes me beam with pride!!!

I did my job.

I made you FEEL.

You didn't like what you felt, and you translated that as you didn't like the book, but that's okay with me. I don't like lots of books. Sometimes I don't like characters but I LOVE the book. That's life. What makes me proud is the fact that I can evoke that emotion in another human. 

I write about the dark side of life, the struggles and pain and betrayal and cowardice and fear because over the series of books it helps make the triumph more profound. You really see how dark the main girl can be and how light she ends up. I WANT readers to find her aggravating. Hello? She's an alcoholic. She's also a rape victim and an orphan. Very troubled. She cannot stray from her character. Even if that means disappointing the fluffy Disney loving type readers.

Why do I write about darkness?

Again, it is therapeutic for me.
I can create a story with all of my fears and failures. Whether or not I have conquered them, my characters CAN. And sometimes I can learn from them. I gain strength and encouragement. Other times, I help my characters gain strength from me and a situation I HAVE overcome.

How and why do YOU write?

By Brittany Shannon

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