First Drafts Come from Asking "What If?"
Everyone says Write What You Know. For what it’s worth, I don’t know how to be an eldest child of a single parent in an immigrant family who fights fairies in her free time. And yet, that’s what I wound up writing about, because I love to take what I actually know and ask “What if?”
When I was nineteen, I read a Supernatural fanfiction about Dean Winchester as a girl. This is such a common premise it’s barely worth noting, but something about the characterization stuck with me. As a young woman about to leave home at last, torn between feelings of family and ambition, Girl!Dean spoke to something deep inside of me.
As the months dragged on, the story fleshed itself out. My time at the Renaissance Festival brought in the fairies. Late nights watching Doctor Who music videos led to new artists whose songs twisted plot and character this way and that until a story formed itself.
I showed my dad my first typo-ridden draft, which he doesn’t remember save for laughing until he turned red. I kept writing. Then stopped. Started again. Stopped. Wrote another book. Came back, and realized the book needed to be in first person. Went back. Started over.
I started the process with a strict outline and learned that the best way to write is to do just that, then metaphorically light it on fire. I wrote a scene every day for months. Brought in a chapter for critique every week for a year. My love interest changed and my villain evolved. Workshops were followed by conferences and then, finally, the entry to Swoon Reads. Almost a perfect nine years after that first spark, it felt like my journey was over.
And when the revision letter came, I realized it had only just begun.