When I was younger, I was never into writing. Whenever I had to write a story in class, I did not enjoy it. I didn’t think I was good at it. I also really hated creating poetry. What I was into, though, was reading. Give me a book and I would have it done by the end of the day. For my fifteenth birthday my brother got me the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read it in three days. And then immediately started reading it again. I consumed books.
There was, however, one book series that I wasn’t particularly interested in – Harry Potter. I think I was in grade eleven or twelve when it started to become really popular in my school. All the cool kids were reading it. Now, I was a cool kid, but I wasn’t one of those cool kids, and I figured it was just a trend. Why were all these people into a kids’ book? I had no intention of ever reading it. And then for Christmas 2004 my auntie bought Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for me. I felt obliged to read it because it was a gift. And let me just say that that book was probably one of the greatest gifts anyone has every given me. With that small purchase, I am 100% certain that she altered my life path.
Turns out that I loved following Harry Potter’s adventures. I quickly finished the first book, the second, the third, fourth, and the fifth. The lucky thing about getting into the series so late was that I didn’t have to wait a year for every single book to come out. I had to wait a few months for the sixth book to arrive, and then after that, I was faced with the agonizing wait for the seventh. It was okay, though, because I was starting university that fall, and I certainly had other things to focus on and read (or pretend to read). It wasn’t until early November that Harry really came into my life in the form of fanfics. I had never heard of fanfics before so this was a whole new world for me, and a world that gave me more stories set in the wonderful wizarding world. I was hooked. While I should have been studying, I was plowing through fanfic after fanfic. The thing about fanfics, though, is that one of two things inevitably happen. One, the story is amazing and you get invested, and then the author stops posting. Or, the story is terrible and you just keep reading to see how long this train wreck goes on, and it goes on forever because that author just keeps pumping it out.
It got to a point where all the fanfics I enjoyed had stopped updating regularly and the dregs that were left were unsatisfying. So I took things into my own hands and did what any rational person in my situation would do. I decided to write my own fanfic. It was winter break and I still had a solid six months to wait for the seventh Harry Potter book. I didn’t think I was a good writer and I figured that I would be very slow at creating my own story. To me, six months was just enough time to write fifty pages. I would write until the seventh book was out and that would be the end of things. Harry Potter would be done for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This little fan fiction that was supposed to be fifty pages and take six months to write far surpassed those expectations. In the end I crafted the story for more than five years and I believe the final page counted ended up at 408. Oops. Sometimes I look back and wish that I had spent the time working on something else, but then I remind myself of how great it was for me. I met my best friend through the story because she read it and messaged me. We’re about to celebrate our seven year friendaversary, no small feat especially because we haven’t met in person yet. I also learned how to write along the way. The first 150 or so pages of the story are cringe worthy, but there is marked improvement over the course. I also started to nail dialogue, a skill which translated well into other stories. But most importantly, I learned that I loved to write. That writing was something very special to me and that it was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
At around the age of twenty-two, I decided that I was going to focus on writing (plot twist, I didn’t!) and I was going to give myself until I was thirty to get published, or move on to something else. A few years later, as things weren’t going according to plan, I realized that I could never stop writing and having a deadline was stupid. It’s probably a good thing, too, because just two months before my 30th birthday, I quit my full-time job with growth opportunities, to “retire” and focus on my writing. And despite the fears and the ups and downs, and couldn’t be happier with my decision.
There’s that famous saying by George Burns that goes “I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate”, and I fully agree with it. Even if I never get published and nothing ever comes of my writing, as long as I continue with it, I’ll be happy, and I won’t have any regrets.