Tumblr Post #20 (February 2018)
It took me 8 years to complete my first novel.
I started at the tender age of 6—a first grader who spent more time in her head than interacting with the outside world. I had 5 imaginary friends: Mary Kate, Ashley, Esmerelda, and two others whose names I can’t remember for the life of me. But I know it was five because I was always thrown off by having an odd number of friends and, ironically, not seeing myself as imaginative enough to create a sixth.
Perhaps I was the sixth.
This was also a time in which my paper doll obsession was in full effect. I had ziploc bags full of items that I had drawn and cut out myself- all separated according to a common theme: people, clothing, furniture, vehicles, etc. A white poster board with a hand-drawn blueprint of a two-story house that my paper doll family inhabited: equipped with a garage, bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and a bathroom or two.
A new storyline blossomed every time I pulled out the bags and set the scene.
This was where my mind was when I started writing my novel. Awash with creative energy and rich imagination that waned and flowed as I navigated elementary school and onward through puberty. The story followed me through lost and recovered notebooks and Word documents—the characters constantly talking to me. Their stories whispering in my subconscious, patiently awaiting their debut.
I remember when I finally finished.
It was the summer after my 8th grade year. I was 14 years old. Alone in my room, laptop open on my small desk, the mid-afternoon sun radiating through my open shades, I wrote the final lines of my first novel. A story that follows a young girl, April, who moves with her family from Atlanta to Jacksonville, and her shenanigans with fellow neighborhood children which wouldn’t be complete without a love-interest, Ahmad—the boy next door. April’s story ended with a picnic, laughing with her new friends as they reminisce on their summer adventures and watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance.
When I wrote The End, a sense of calm came over me as I looked outside my bedroom window at the sun shining on my face. I took a deep breath and exhaled with authority. With confidence. It is finished. It took a long time with a couple of false starts, but I completed what I set out to do.
That is persistence. That is dedication. Taking a long time to write novels is part of my DNA. It is my process. I don’t know if it will take 8 years to complete this story. But if it does, so be it. I must remember that time is not of the essence. I must remember to not get discouraged when I think about how I’ve been stuck on chapter 11 since July. I must remember that I have the capacity to finish my current novel because I’ve done it before.
And I shall do it again.