In November 2009, I started writing what would be my first complete novel-length first draft. In August 2013, I wrote the story of everything from when I started to where I was. Here is that story.
-Written on http://writtenkitten.net where you get a new cat picture for every hundred words you write.
So I have never tried this before, but apparently if I write enough, I get a picture of a cat, or “kitty”. I prefer dogs, I’m going to me honest, I’m just a dog person. But cats are okay, too, I guess.
When I was fourteen, almost fifteen, I sat down, bored, at my desk. There was this really good pen sitting there right in front of me, the kind of pen you actually want to use. In addition to that, there was a sizeable stack of perfectly clean, flat, hole- punched—omygawd there’s a picture of two cats!!! I got TWO cats for my first kitty picture instead of one! I must be doing good.
Anyway, this perfect-looking stack of lined loose-leaf…I wonder if loose-leaf counts as one word or two? Loose-leaf. Just one, okay. So this beautiful pile of dead tree slices was RIGHT THERE in front of me and on top was an EPIC PEN like a cherry, so I picked up the pen and pulled off the lid and lowered the tip to the paper…and stopped. Because I wanted to write. I really wanted to write, and normally, when I want to write on beautiful paper with a super-duper pen, I end up drawing because I never know what to write. But this time, I didn’t want to draw, I wanted to WRITE!—Hey, look, another kitty! I wonder when that got there? I didn’t notice because I was getting so into my story.
So instead of drawing, I sat there, frozen, with my perfect pen suspended above the perfect paper, thinking of what I should write. I wanted to write a story, just a short story, because all of my stories are short. I’ll start writing one that—ooh this cat has yellow eyes! Cool!—All my stories are begun with me thinking they’ll grow into long novels, but they never get past five chapters, so I decided beforehand to make this one five chapters so that I won’t be disappointed when it actually stops at five chapters. But what to write about? Well, write about what you know, right? But I was fourteen, I wasn’t an expert in anything, I’m still not. So I’d be better off writing about made-up stuff. The only thing I was an expert on was myself. That was it. So I’ll make up a story about myself.
Hmm, I should have gotten another picture there but I still have the yellow-eyed cat. Patooie.
So that’s what I set out to do at first, write a fictional story with an obvious Mary-Jane. It’s called a Mary-Jane, right? And I was a pretty quiet person who liked to take notice of things, so I decided my character would be, too. And she wouldn’t be the main character, her best friend would and she would just record everything from a sidekick’s point of view, like John Watson did in the Sherlock Holmes stories. I should mention that I didn’t—ooh! This grey one is so cute!—I didn’t know that this was how the Sherlock Holmes stories were told until I read them when I was seventeen, so I wasn’t copying! Not really…
So I began writing my story…and I started again…and again. Then I had a rough idea of what the story was actually about and realized that five chapters would not be enough, even if that was all I could get done. No, this story would be a novel if it were ever finished. So I looked for a big coil notebook and found one with two—whoa! That is one FLUFFY kitten!—Two hundred lined pages ought to be more than enough, I thought. My mom had written some unimportant nonsense on the first page, so I just flipped to the next page and began writing.
And began again.
Then I decided I needed to do some planning, so I tried writing out character bios for my first few characters. Then I started my story again and haven’t stopped since. It’s been almost four years and my Mary-Jane is no longer anything like me except for physically. The story is no longer revolving around the best friend—THAT’S A DOG!!! Cute black kitten rubbing noses with a GIGANTIC DOG! Is that allowed? Are dogs allowed on WrittenKitten? Apparently so.
My story is longer than five chapters, it’s even longer than a novel. I wrote a sequel and finished that, then started on the third in the series before I quit separating the story into books. I just split chapters now. I might be on book three or four, I don’t even know. So yeah, that’s the story of my story. I’ve got a spin-off already in the works. I know where the story will end and how—What. Is. That. That is not a cat. There are no cats in this picture. I don’t even know what that is. I think it’s a dog, from the ears, but an albino dog with black abstract stripes or something. Blue eyes and tie-dye fur. It looks so weird. Is it photoshopped??? I don’t even–just…wow. I was promised cats, not whatever that is.
I’m on my ninth coil notebook, the third four hundred page one, not including the duo tang from the first book. I also type my stories sometimes, but my first big one, this one, is all done longhand for the first draft.
It happened again. I should have gotten another cat, but the freaky dog is still here. Hmph.
So if you ever happen across a book called Essie and the main character is a girl with purple hair, I wrote that. Take a look at it and tell me what you think. If you like it, then I’m glad. If you don’t then keep in mind that I finished writing that book before I even turned sixteen and what have you done with your life. But you’ll probably like it because the main character is nothing like me—OH MY GOSH IT’S AN ADORABLE KITTEN! Finally! At that age where it’s as small as can be and still be fluffy!—and because I poured my heart into it and am now a corpse for your simple reading pleasure.
All I wanted to do all those years ago was write. I didn’t think about impressing people with my (non-existent) knowledge of words or making money by getting published and being rich like JK Rowling (I still don’t expect to be published, but every time I say so out loud, a bunch of people who know I write but have never read any of my work shoot me down and yell at me that I WILL be published). I just wanted to write. I just wanted to tell a good story. And hopefully, I will succeed at that. Hopefully I will add to the good books of the world.
By the way, before I sat down at the desk, the reason I was bored in the first place, was because I had just scoured my shelves for something to read or reread, but I hadn’t found anything that I had read long enough ago to read again. I was desperate for a book, and that was my mindset when I first sat down. I was thinking, the world needs more good books. There aren’t enough. So I’ll write one.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash