I am so excited about this month’s prompt. It’s the kind of question I love to ask myself and answer. Enough beating around the beaver.
Here’s the prompt:
“How have both the people in your life and your own personal experiences impacted your writing? Do you ever base characters off of people you know?”
To even begin to answer the first question, I must stress that I didn’t get here, to this specific point, of my own accord. Everything that is at the present, even with regards to my writing, couldn’t have come to be without contact with an outside force. Oh, yeah what was it that Newton taught us? An object at a constant velocity tends to remain at that velocity without contact with an outside force.
Let’s just say that when I was born I was traveling at a certain velocity (maybe zero), and the outside forces (my family, friends, and location, for a few examples) bounced me around and sped up my velocity until I got here.
In the year 2005, I “wrote” a picture book, with the help of my mom, about Ariel, the little mermaid. I basically drew the pictures and asked her to write what was going on in the margins. I didn’t think much about the actual writing as an art form. I was 6.
My dad inspired me to write my first novel (hehe. hi, Dad.). He introduced me to NaNoWriMo when I was about 10 (circa 2009), and told me that there was a kids’ program. He encouraged me to try it out. Up to that point, I hadn’t really thought much about writing and had no idea why he thought I could, or would, write a book. I sort of shrugged him off and smiled as I went off into my imaginary worlds.
Don’t worry! There is a happy ending to this story… and Writing wins me over in the end.
I don’t remember exactly when, but soon after that, I came up with a premise for a story. I was excited to share it with my dad, who was exceptionally supportive. He helped me to develop the idea and encouraged me to write it out. In hindsight, I can’t tell whether or not it was a good idea, but I certainly felt proud of it, because of how encouraging my dad was. I wrote for a while on my own, letting my mom proofread, but eventually the book faded from my priorities, and later, my life.
All the while, I was reading- gobbling up books like any other kid would gobble up fruit snacks and peanut butter sandwiches. With the help of a friend (hey, Ms. Mandy.) working at Inkwood, a local bookstore here in the Tampa bay, I got tons of advanced galleys. My sister and I even reviewed books for Inkwood for a time.
Later on, my parents began homeschooling my siblings and I. As part of my Lang Arts curriculum, one year, my parents had me read a book for teen writers (Spilling Ink, by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter) about, simply, writing. I loved it, and even visited their blog.
From conceiving first book idea to Spilling Ink, I had entered into some writing contests, and I also entered one on the Spilling Ink blog. I never placed, but it was good for experience.
I kept up a journal of ideas from then to the present, and even invented some worlds, but didn’t do any big writing. At the start of this past school year, I sort of dropped writing unconsciously. This was about 3 years since my dad first began encouraging me to write, and seven years since the little mermaid picture book.
That October, when everything seemed hopeless for my relationship with writing, I spotted a book out of the corner of my eye in bottom shelf of a bookshelf in my family’s living room. The book was No Plot? No Problem!, by Chris Baty… The founder of NaNoWriMo. The book was a guide to how to survive National Novel Writing Month. At the time, I didn’t think about how it was probably fate. More like, Oh, yeah, I remember when Dad was talking about NaNoWriMo. I had no idea how insane it was! Hey, November is coming soon… I wonder if…
Next thing I knew, I announced to my family that I would be participating in NaNoWriMo, and that I would need the computer for extended amounts of time.
I asked everyone I knew if they would participate with me, but everyone declined. While I was disappointed, I could not be deterred. I loved writing for hours each day, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire month of November. Of course, it was hard. I fell behind a little bit during the third week, but I caught up, writing 2000 words a day and finished on the 31st. My whole family and friends were (and is, probably, but you never know) so proud of me for completing a novel.
From the start of 2013 to the present I’ve been revising my novel from November. I have quite a while to go.
In February, I think, I begged my dad to help me start this blog. (And if you are really curious, everything since then has been documented right here, at the HQ.)
As for the second question, it’s complicated… But what isn’t? I usually only write what I know, otherwise I fear inaccuracies and the risk of seeming hypocritical. I have, to this point, written about mostly female main characters, but if I do write about a male main character, he’ll probably resemble my brother or dad (hey, Dad. You’ve made several cameos in this post). Usually it’s subconscious, but all of my characters are based off of people in my life (usually me). For example; once a side character, Ricky, looked totally unlike my brother, Owen. But as I filled in his quirks and traits, he began to turn into him. Eventually, even Ricky’s clothes looked exactly like my Owen’s usual style.
I am currently outlining a book with two sisters as the main characters. One is innovative and independent, as well as a dreamer. The other is sensitive of others’ opinions and approval, and eager to fit in. I identify with both of these characters. What does this say about me?
Yes, I do base characters off of people in my life. What is the alternative? I only write what I know. Also, I feel that it is easier to empathize with a character, personally, if I relate with him or her.
Right now I’m editing a previously mentioned novel, outlining a graphic novel, and don’t get me started on the drawings.
And I leave you with #huglife:
The Wonderful Participants:
26th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)