“I learned that an author can continually improve his/her work and could, in theory, never be finished. With that thought, I decided one day that I was finally finished and I was proud of what I had accomplished. I looked at this novel with love.”
Not every story ends how you want it to. Often you can feel betrayed and frustrated when a character does something that you wouldn’t think was in their nature. Worst of all is when a beloved character dies, just when you are predicting the gratifying ‘happily-ever-after’ ending.
It’s the ‘could-be’ that makes us feel the most distraught as a reader. The thought that the rightful ending we had envisaged- and our trust in the author to deliver on it – is torn away from us in a few words on a page.
Reading books was a powerful stimulation of the imagination for me when I was growing up. I loved science-fiction, fantasy and adventure; basically, anything I could get my hands on at the time. More often than not, when I had finished a book that I had particularly enjoyed, I would feel a sort of lingering sadness, no matter how genuine the ending was. I especially scorned at books that offered the typical ‘sparkling magic’ ending as I knew that reality would hit after I turned the final page. The magic would be over and I always wanted more.
When a story finished in an undesired way in my mind, I could often spend an hour or more staring at the ceiling of my room, contemplating what I had read; imagining a different ending. Especially when the protagonist had to sacrifice a part of themselves or something they loved to survive, or when a side character died, I would mentally rewrite the ending how I would have wanted it in order to satisfy my sense of completeness.
Then came my chance. When I was eleven years old, I was tasked with an English assignment which was to write the opening for a story which included the use of a ghost-town, station or train. I had written descriptive pieces before, as well as a few slightly longer narrative pieces, but this project felt different. It felt special.
My friend and I came up with the idea of two female heroines that were on their way to school by train. They accidentally stepped onto a ghost train with no driver and were abducted from their normal lives. Although the actual plot at the time wasn’t particularly exciting, I felt my mind racing. My friend and I talked for hours; each detail that we added was like putting a jigsaw piece into place with the rest of the puzzle. I was ecstatic- I felt I was in my element. It was an opportunity to create my own story, and I leaped at it.
We had asked to be partnered for the project and our teacher agreed but requested that we do the actual writing separately. Of course, our two pieces turned out very differently, as was expected. I handed mine in and didn’t think of it again for a while. I went back to playing sports, having fun with my siblings and chattering away with friends at school.
Two summers later when I was thirteen, that this story once again re-entered my thoughts. I had signed myself up for a writing course in London, and it had left me wondering about the possibilities I had in terms of writing. After the course had finished, I felt idle. Simply reading books felt dull in comparison to the racing adrenaline I had found while writing. By then my story from my primary school was stuffed into the attic among other toys and games. I burrowed into the closets once again found that English project.
I read the plan for the story and grew excited once more, although when I read the actual piece it felt lacking. I no longer felt that it was something I would read myself. This was somewhat expected as I had grown older and more mature and quite predictably my taste in writing had too. Although I liked the plot, the style of writing wasn’t what I wanted, so I decided to re-write it in a new style.
As the summer days passed, I felt that the plot needed detailed development, and I started expanding on it on little scraps of paper. It took days until I was finished and satisfied with the plot and my vision for the two heroines. In the end, I decided to remove the ghost-train element I had been forced to include as part of the project. There was now laid before me a whole novel waiting to be written, life waiting to be lived by the characters of my imagination.
The prospect of writing a whole book by myself seemed daunting at first. I wasn’t sure I could keep my interest and stamina up to follow through and actually complete the novel. I started by writing flashes of scenes and little clips of the story. With every scene I wrote, my passion grew for the tale I was creating. I knew now I would finish it and would wake up every morning excited to start writing and not see it as a burden I was forcing myself to complete.
Sardaron took me two summers. The first one was spent primarily writing, planning and adding in details that brought the story to life. The second was spent editing, a task I found much more tedious than the writing itself. It was hard to continue during the editing phase, to imagine that I was getting any closer to reaching a point where I was finally happy with what the novel had turned out to be.
I learned that an author can continually improve his/her work and could, in theory, never be finished. With that thought, I decided one day that I was finally finished and I was proud of what I had accomplished. I looked at this novel with love.
It had shown me the power of my imagination and what I could do when I really tried. As much as I shaped the story, it too shaped me into becoming who I am today. Resilient, inventive, adventurous, and most of all confident in myself and what I can achieve.