On December 22, 2015, I posted the very first excerpt from what became Book II: The Saga of Thranduil from The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm Trilogy. It was the first time all my little anecdotes and phrases were put into some semblance of order and given chapter titles. I did not know then that Chapter I: I am Thranduil would change my life forever.
This week reminded me how far I had actually come–I started paying attention to what people were saying. Always the realistic pessimist, I was waiting for all the “oh, this is horrible”, “you shamed the name of fantasy writing forever”, “Tolkien is rolling over in his grave at this insidious portrayal”. I didn’t get any of that–not even close. What I got was humbled and flattered and touched. One reader read 93 posts equivalent to 360 pages in two days. She said, “You made his pain and heartbreak feel so real with your writing. Well done.” One person said, “That’s why I read what you write. I can show my nephews, too. A great writer need not be explicit with anything. Romance, that’s what matter.”
When I began this journey, as I always do, I try to get out of it. I have a fear of compliments. My mother always said I never finished anything because I was afraid of success. I thought she was being silly. Who would fear being successful? When I completed 360 pages and the world found out, I got scared. Not because I feared criticism–that I love because I don’t like feeling I’m good at things (I don’t know where that comes from). I didn’t fear topping myself–another story of mine started to get notice on WattPad recently. I was afraid to face acceptance. I was abandoned in a hospital by my birth mother, in foster care until they adopted me at seven. I actually have always felt safer in abandonment than acceptance. I could keep my expectations low.
But not on this day. This day, I got an email message from Tumblr saying “Happy Anniversary” Book II has been up for a year. I had originally ended it at 21 Chapters then later decided to add the shorter book to it and make it 34 chapters that I am eight chapters away from completion. But in one year, I’ve gotten over 200 readers. Now all three book blogs have more readers than I have posts. I have fans and even fan boards and fans who want to write fan fictions of my story. I am the most searched non-published book on Amazon. I talk to best-selling authors that give advice. Publishers, Studios and Comics follow my Twitter feed. I have there celebrity followers including a cast member from “Outlander”.
For me, just having written 500 pages in one year and five months was cool. Learning what NaNoWriMo meant was an accomplishment. But I got someone sending me a message saying, “I love it and please make it a book.” I was thrown into a deafening speechlessness I know my mother (R.I.P.) is looking down and saying, “I told you so.”
One Year Ago Today: Thranduil made is debut in a fan fiction I had decided to set against the realism of Middle Earth. I didn’t want to be like other fan fictions that were merely fantasies about Thranduil or the actor Lee Pace that portray him. I wanted Thranduil to be believable as a citizen of Middle Earth. Something that could actually be seen as being part of Middle Earth. I thought I was writing dull, boring and pedantic. There are romantic moments, funny moments, sad moments, mundane moments. All part of life moments. Adding characters that were missing (like his mother and Legolas’ mother) among a few others, I created a world within a world that felt like it could have been in Middle Earth.
Today is a typical day–trying to get something up with the internet making it difficult. Just finishing a story I began in July in snippets and started putting together on this day one year ago. I am proud of my story. I love writing it think more than people tell me they love reading it. I still freak out when someone likes it, but I’m too far into it to give it up. I did the one thing I never thought I would do–run away when someone said they liked it. I couldn’t, honestly. I was 360 pages in before I heard the accolades and too far into Middle Earth to turn back.
It began as an unexpected journey and ended up an adventure. I said once, some adventures you take and some adventures take you. This one took me and has yet to let go. With the love of writing it, I don’t think I want it to let go and I don’t want to let go. It made me happy and in turn, it made others happy. I guess I finally grew up.
“I am so impressed! I feel like I am reading good quality, published work! I am so excited to continue.”
Eight more chapters to go..and a world of adventures left to follow. Happy First Birthday to the book that started a trilogy and changed me forever.–J.
Gif Image: ©2014. Warner Brothers Pictures. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. All Rights Reserved.