JOURNEY PART 5: Now and ever after


I’ve always struggled with endings. If you’ve been following this telling of my writing journey, you might have gathered that by now. So as I sit here, pondering how to wrap up everything I’ve covered in a neat little bow, I find my brow creasing, my fingers hovering in mid-air as they spell out words half-formed…


I feel I must attribute much of what I’ve achieved over the last three years to all the reading I’ve done since finishing high school (a selection of those books are listed on my Goodreads profile). It’s not only the quantity, however. It’s the content. I finally branched out from the monotony of the YA-low-fantasy-slash-paranormal-with-usually-annoying-female main-character genre that dominated my bookshelf for the better part of a decade. I started reading contemporary novels, adult fantasy and paranormal (or at least not specifically YA), books with LGBT+ main characters—subjects as broad and varied as the night sky.


If I didn’t try to expand my horizons the way I have—if I didn’t push myself beyond my comfort zone to see what else is out there—my current writing projects might look very different.



Mock covers for my works-in-progress: Holding Up the Sky and Old Blood.


Inspiration is a funny thing. It’s fickle. Sometimes it strikes out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning on a clear day, a key moment you can pinpoint in space and time. Other times it’s this nebulous, amorphous thing, like ideas have gradually seeped through your skin by osmosis.


My inspiration for writing Holding Up the Sky, a YA contemporary novel, was undoubtedly the latter type. I don’t quite recall what sparked its genesis. I remember being eager to attempt a contemporary piece. I remember being intrigued by the idea of exploring the pressures faced by young people today—pressures I remember all too well from my own teenage years. And I remember that a part of me just wanted to write something utterly different from The Willpower. I wanted to get rid of all the frills and extraneous work required for a decent fantasy and really drill down into the art of quality writing. So that’s what I’ve tried to do (read more about this WIP here).


The process was different again when it came to Old Blood. Early this year, I went through a spate of fantasy books—more than I’d read in a row in ages. As I was reading, as I was getting lost in the thrill of all those new worlds, I decided that I wanted to write fantasy again. I wanted to write fantasy again, but this time not specifically for a YA audience. Enthused, I sorted through years of notes and ideas to find one I thought might work. And I did. I uncovered the bare bones of an exciting plot in my Big Blue Folder—from all the way back in the day—and over the next few months I built on it, mashing together several scattered thoughts recorded in my Little Green Notebook, until I had a brand new world and a structured storyline to suit it. Then the hard work began (read more about this WIP here).


As you can see, my two current WIPs are as different from each other as fire and ice. In one, I write as a schoolboy trying to find his way—and himself. In the other, I follow the journey of a legendary figure sometimes called the Phoenix as he arises from the ashes of an ancient world to fight threats both old and new. I like it that way. With two disparate ideas and genres and writing styles to work on, I can switch between the two as my mood changes. If I get bogged down or suffer the inevitable ailment known as writer’s block, I can simply turn my focus to the other project and feel like I’m still accomplishing something.


Now, I know what you’re all probably wondering by this point. Publishing. What are my intentions when it comes to publishing?


My ultimate goal is to have these stories published, in some way, shape or form, for all the world to see. Neither of them is there yet. I haven’t even finished the first draft of Old Blood! But when the day finally comes, I’d love to at least attempt the traditional route despite its many hurdles. If proves to be a dead end, then there are a number of excellent self-publishing options available these days. Either way, they will be out there eventually. Never fear. If you’re interested in either of my books, you will get to read them.


And that brings me to my closing remark:


My journey began with a golden pencil. It has taken me from unicorns to phoenixes and everything in between. And the journey isn’t over yet.


No. It’s really only just beginning…




Lessons learned:

  • Reading is vital. Like a limb, or a lung. It helps you to better understand the genre in which you write, what works and what doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you should stick to reading one genre. Oh no. I believe that the more broadly you read, the better-rounded your writing will become.
  • It’s okay to have two (or more!) writing projects at the one time. I know some people are against this, but for the reasons outlined above it works really well for me.
  • Put yourself out there. I was rather terrified to start this website/blog, uncomfortable at the idea of exposing myself and my writing to the world. But it’s all about fostering personal growth (:P) and it’s certainly an essential step to take if your aspiration is to get your work published.
  • Have fun and enjoy your writing. That’s what it’s all about, right? For those of us who don’t write for the purpose of putting food on the table, I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you do, dabble in a variety of genres if you wish, and keep the pressure off yourself. Just love writing!


Here concludes the story of my writing journey to date. To navigate to the previous four parts, see From unicorns to phoenixes: A writing journey


RA_logo _backdrop-01_miniRebecca Alasdair


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