“Ok, uhmm, this thing is gonna be weird. What have you done, Jaynae? I mean, I’m glad that it is going to be real but, dayum, what have you done??”
That is a reasonably, though slightly edited quote from one of my readers (and I have my own personal cheer squad that rivals any professional league cheerleaders right now). What have I done? Today that question actually stopped my day from progressing. What have I done?
Frankenstein created a monster–that is putting it extraordinarily lightly. All my life, all I ever wanted to do was become a writer. When I was two years old I wrote my first story. Granted, it was loopy–cursive loops on the lines of a steno pad. I remember asking my mom to read it and she just stared at me. How did a two year old write on the lines? So from that moment, my parents taught me my ABC’s and 123’s. My dad read to me every night for a year and he hated it because I made him let me say every word after him. Mom used a small chalkboard to teach me how to write actual letters and on the way to preschool, I counted mail boxes. By the age four, I could read a book and could write more than my name. I wrote my first poem at four–with letters in sentences and I knew how to rhyme.
Before second grade, I had read my favorite book twice: The Story of My Life By Helen Keller. I read The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon by the fourth grade because I kept falling asleep reading War and Peace and Mom decided that book would hold my attention better. I loved Shakespeare by eight. I wrote my first light opera script by nine. I was published twice before the age of ten. I wrote my seventh grade musical. I loved reading and writing a lot. I saw The Lord of the Rings in 8th grade and jumped up and down for joy (back then it was the 12 lbs. doorstop). I had read The Hobbit the year before so I was excited.
Years and years and years later, I tried all things non-literary and I couldn’t stand it. Mostly I did it because my parents created this monster but it had nowhere to go. They said I had to “eat” so get a job before a career. I was marginally successful at not writing, but I think it was painful. I numbed myself and wasted years “eating”. Ironically, I’m only 95 lbs., so I figure I must be a failure at that.
When I finally was able to write again, I was writing a script when I was suffering migraines and rushing to make a deadline when I couldn’t take the non-literary side of the writing. I’m not into selling myself. I worked as an assistant talent manager in Hollywood. I wrote articles and things of that nature and was always good at that part but only for other people. I am horrible at explaining what I do. I’m not a 140-character kind of person. I need to write like I need to breathe.
So I drop everything to write something that had absolutely no prospects of feeding me because my father had gotten sick and I had to now find something substantial to do. I had started gathering a few followers that seemed interested in Thranduil. I was determined to make him “fit” properly into Middle Earth. While others were writing outlandish stories of fantasy that often were too violent and sexually graphic, I decided to go back to my roots in History and English Literature and write in the world Tolkien had already created and write the way I knew how. It felt right and my headaches went away.
Now, I’ve created a monster. Doing something I love, I let my readers talk me into self-promotion. Now one book has 8 Tumblr Blogs (the readers wanted only story without interruption so they got a newsfeed, the appendix (legends) and the History (which is mostly research on how Thranduil’s story came to be: The first post got 15 notes out of the gate which I found odd because there’s a lot of research notes in there complete with a bibliography). There is the alternate end and Legolas’ journal. Pinterest has four boards (one with quotes from the book that some have pinned under Tolkien, The Hobbit, LOTR). I have found fans around the world and my new Twitter feed started to get noticed. I’m a “card-carrying” member of the Mythopoeic Society. I got an Instagram note the other day saying they like my “Thranduil” and a quote from Legolas’ book got its first “fave” on Flickr.
So, what have I done? I finished my first book in less than a year (Book II: The Saga of Thranduil). I’m half way through Chapter III of Book III: To Eryn Lasgalen. I started preparing myself for Book I: The History of Eryn Galen and have some work done on Legolas’ journals (Trenarn o Legolas Lasgalen). I have 12 pages of my own appendix (not including all my source material–that has to be alphabetized before I even start annotating). I have no idea but I created a monster. He’s very real and I wouldn’t change a thing.
As I transition from what started as something meant to last a few weeks and only cover maybe 50-100 pages to what is now considered epic fantasy, I think about what I have done. I don’t know, really. I’m still doing it. As it is said, “I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.” I’m neither tired nor done. All I know is I’m happy.–J.