I saw this screenshot on The Writer’s Circle‘s Facebook page a few weeks ago, and I found it extremely encouraging. Since I was a kid, I’ve had two stories stuck in my head. I’ve written various versions of these stories, which involve different characters who have different adventures and conflicts. When I was a kid, I fantasized about these characters every day. I imagined their entire lives. Over and over again. The fact that these characters are still with me today tell me only one thing: their stories need to be told.
The first character, Lindsay, has been with me since I was nine years old. Anna has been with me since I was eleven years old. So they’ve been with me approximately fifteen and thirteen years, respectively. I’ve decided to write Anna’s story first, and I’ve gone back to the original outline that I created when I was eleven years old. The story has always been about Anna’s camp adventures, which is essentially an overdramatized version of my middle school camp experience. I’ve delved a little deeper, though, and decided that it would be fun to make the camp she’s attending a mental health camp, rather than a church camp like I attended and the camp in the original story. I think mental health is an unspoken topic that many fear, and it needs to be discussed.
I’m struggling. I know Anna so well. I know everything about her, so you would think she would be an easy character to write, but she’s not; and the reason lies in the screenshot above. I get bored writing her story. I get new ideas all the time, and I’m tempted to go write something else. However, if I do that, then I know I’ll never finish Anna’s story, and if I never finish Anna’s story, I’ll never finish Lindsay’s story, and it’s a domino effect. I have a tendency to never finish projects because I get bored and then discouraged, because I feel like nothing I write is interesting or exciting. Then I get a new idea that suddenly seems “so much better” until I get bored of that story too and get another “amazing idea.” That has been a never-ending cycle since I was a child, which is the reason I have dozens of incomplete stories.
The screenshot above gives me hope. I just need to push through and keep writing, even when I feel like what I’m writing is utterly boring. And so what if my first novel sucks? Every author has a throwaway, right? I chose Anna’s story to be my first novel because I’d rather it be my throwaway than Lindsay’s. I’ve always felt more connected to Lindsay as a character than Anna, but maybe that’s because Lindsay was my first fictional character to stick around. You never forget your first fictional character.