“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
~ Helen Keller
So more than a year and a half ago, I sat down at the computer and, on a whim, decided to write what I honestly thought was just going to be a short story. I wasn’t sure where it would lead. I wasn’t even sure if it would end up leading anywhere. All I knew was that there were more ideas in my head than I could keep track of, ideas that I just had to write. I think that’s really the only way to describe it, that I had to write. It was more than just wanting to write, it was that I needed to write — and I needed to write the story that immediately became so important to me from the very first word I typed. The ideas darted into my mind faster than I could write – and this was before I had my laptop, where I now keep a running list of all the ideas I want to one day include in my series. So I did things the “old fashioned” way – instead of keeping a list on the desktop computer, I made handwritten lists – jotting down the ideas as they came to mind, my pen flying across the paper as I tried to keep up with the thoughts that popped into my head. That was in November of 2007. Now it’s June of 2009, and things have changed. I do all my writing on my laptop now. I keep my notes and ideas stored in a multi-paged Word document (and on an external hard drive, because it never hurts to have a backup). I know with certainty now that that “short story” has turned into a book series that is beyond a work of heart for me. It’s turned into a huge and incredibly important part of my life. I know myself well enough to know that at times (okay, most of the time), I seem to actually be incapable of stopping myself from writing. I know that writing isn’t just what I want to do, it’s what I need to do. I know a lot of things now that I didn’t know when I began this journey that has changed my life in so many ways.
But not everything has changed – and that’s a good thing. I’m still every bit as excited about writing as I was when I first sat down to begin the first story a year and a half ago. I still get that same giddy excitement whenever a new idea pops into my head, and I still rush to write it down right away. I’m still just as excited about the characters as I was when I first started writing – and all the new characters who are now an important part of the story, too. In a way, I feel like I know them. Obviously they’re not real, but they’re real to me — and I like that. I like getting to, in a sense, go on a journey with them as I write about them. It’s fascinating to me — and I can’t wait to see where their journeys take them in the future.
Why the future? Because I’m about to start the third book in the series (well, I guess that would be books nine through twelve? ten through thirteen?) tomorrow. I finished the sequel two and a half weeks ago, and I have to say, I’m very proud of myself for not immediately starting the next book, even though part of me wanted to. I took the time off to focus on reworking query letters (trying a completely different approach this time — fingers crossed tightly as can be for the new batch of them I sent out today!!) and to get some work done on things I had been neglecting so I could write (aka lots of cleaning and organizing that was desperately needed in my poor, neglected room — now everything is as neat as can be and I can actually sit at my desk when I write the next book). You’d think that after more than a year and a half and over 2800 pages that I’ve written, I wouldn’t be this excited to start writing again … but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m looking forward to it SO much — there’s so much more I want to write about for these characters, so many new places I want to take them. I can’t wait to get started. See, and that just reaffirms for me what I already know. This is what I need to do with my life. The fact that I’m so excited about it after all this time, the fact that I’m so looking forward to writing again, the fact that a two and a half week break has seemed more like two and a half months — it all tells me this is what I’m meant to do. All I need to do is find a way to make that happen.
I’m more determined than ever to do exactly that. Reworking my query letters has reinvigorated me and given me a renewed energy to work to make this happen. It’s reminded me all over again how important this is to me. This brings me to the quote I used here. I was trying to think of a way to describe how emotional and special it was for me to finish the sequel, but I honestly couldn’t find the words to do it justice. The same goes for putting into words what this dream means to me — not just what writing the books means to me, but what making this dream come true means to me. For me, it’s one of the best parts of my life, of my world — and yes, the words of the books can be seen and even heard when read aloud. If I’m lucky enough to have my novels published one day, they will physically be able to be touched. But the feelings behind it all? The feelings behind finishing the first book and its sequel and the feelings behind getting to start the new book? There are no words to describe those feelings. I can only feel them with my heart — all too fitting, since these books are my babies and writing them is a true “work of heart” for me.
It may be more than a year and a half since I first started working on this series, but I love it every bit as much as I did then. It’s every bit as important to me. I never would have imagined it would turn into what it has. Sitting down to write that first day, I never would have imagined it would become so near and dear to me. But sometimes the most important lessons are the ones we aren’t expecting to learn. This has taught me so much – about myself, about my passion, and about the importance of pursuing my dreams. It’s taught me that even though it may take awhile for your dreams to be realized, it’s more than worth the wait. It’s taught me to never give up on anything you feel so strongly about and anything you love so much. It’s taught me to embrace change, opportunity, and possibility. It’s taught me how wonderful it is to love something so much you can’t put it into words, you can only feel it with your heart. It’s taught me that life really can change … all in a heartbeat.