While growing up in New Jersey and Indiana (where I now live), I read a huge list of books from the public libraries. If one could get access that book list, they would see that of all the genres, those about vampires would be a small number of what I have read.
I always imagined my first book would either be original allegories or a mystery with a reporter, or the police, or an ordinary citizen. But vampires? That was out of the question. The vampire books I did read had in common a yearning for acceptance, love, redemption, revenge, violence, and loss all tied together in one soap opera. When it came to my first book, I wanted nothing to do with them. I was more about writing either a book about learning and teaching a lesson to the reader through my characters or about seeing that a crime was solved and the criminals were dealt with according to the law. Yet reality did not match up. Sometime in 2010 I began reading about Twilight New Moon, part of the popular five series of films online. Although – because of the films’ trailers – I was not a fan yet, they slowly lead to my imagination focusing on a vampire tale of my own.
During parts of the day or at night when I couldn’t sleep, I let my imagination take off. In my head I began to write my own idea of what my vampire book would be. Using what I already knew from entertainment media and online research, I went further and spoke to friends about vampires. I was loaned books on vampire role playing games and dove right into them. Blending all these ideas, over the course of a year, I slowly formed a draft of what I wanted my book to be. I then began typing out the first draft of my vampire book. As I wrote my first draft, I was amazed that it was looking increasingly like it was going to be a book.
By the beginning of the following year I had a beginning, middle, and end to the book. I was elated over my first draft. It called for a break. Once the elation died down, I took some time to ask myself if I wanted to put the effort into editing it and getting it to final copy. The answer was most definitely! However, I was not going to publish it. No way was I going to have my first published book be a vampire book. I was still holding onto the idea my first book was going to be allegories or a mystery. Except as I worked and reworked my first draft, wrote a second and a third, it slowly became clear to me, it was foolish not to. Who knew if I would ever be able to write another full length book and in what genre it would be. Early attempts were a disastrous murder mystery written in the late 1990s and later on with the sci-fi book. I knew from those books I could write a good beginning and middle but I found I was horrible at writing an end with a solution to a murder.
I convinced myself I would polish the final copy of the vampire book, save it on a CD, and put it away never to be bothered with again. However, time had other ideas and eventually I knew I could not file it away and forget about it. I was working too hard and enjoying it. I wanted to share my hard work. Sure it was a vampire book, but it was complete. I had the beginning, the middle, the end. It was all there and it made sense. From the first page to the last, each story fit within the scope of the larger story I was telling. Yes, it still needed work. It was so very far from perfect, but it was there – a book my own book!
Now four years later, I have this vampire book where I want it to be. I am proud of what I have written and if it is the only full book I write, I am thankful. If this book is just the beginning, eventually I can write another book in a different genre. If, however, I find my genre is that of the vampire, at least for a while longer it will sit well with me.
Each of us strives to write stories that please us and make us feel the time we spend writing them is worth it. Yes, there were times when I learned a piece I was writing was not working and I had to say goodbye to it. Then I moved on to writing new stories that I was pleased with. In the vampire book, I found my “it book,” the one I definitely wanted to publish. Writing it and working to get it to where it is now, taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes what is outside our writing and publishing preferences can give us a surprise. The vampire book did that for me. It said, “I am worth the work; I am worth the effort to mold, shape, and polish. I am what you have been waiting years to write. Don’t put the brakes on me!” I listened to the book and have done what it nudged and instructed me to do. So the next time a story idea comes along, I plan on listening to it and letting it stir my imagination. Should it ultimately say “write me,” I will. I’ve got it now. We can’t always choose our material for a book; sometimes it will choose for us. I am happy that this pleasing choice was my surprise.