Jul 26, 2014

You Never Forget

You Never Forget Your First… Idea
By Erin R Flynn

A long, long time ago, in a place far, far away from most there’s a place called Chicago. Outside that place, there are suburbs. I was there with my best friend, at her house, drinking, when I had my first idea for a real novel, not just stories or tales I played with. We worked long hours at jobs we mostly hated, and we were unwinding. I was having a few because it was the only way she could get me to sit still long enough to do anything with the massive amounts of hair I have. She wanted to get back into doing hair to get out of the jobs we had, and I wanted—anything else.
Nonetheless we made good money and taking that leap without any type of security is ridiculous... Because of what? A little thing like being unhappy?
So there I sat while she fed me a few drinks—her sober since she had the scissors and hair dye—and I behaved. We were in a lively debate of whether watching the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy or reading the next Sookie Stackhouse book would be first on our list to do when we had free time because we loved both and she shared my reading obsession. To be honest, it was so many years ago, I cannot say which side I was even on. I just remember thinking, why should we have to choose? I know, how deep and rebellious of me, right? Two drinks in me which barely even give me a buzz and I’m pouting that I have to choose.
But it was so much more than that. So I look at her and say it out loud. “We shouldn’t have to choose. There should be something for people like us who like both.”
She simply blinks at me a second before bursting out laughing. “That would be ludicrous. Talk about two things that don’t go together, like candy and breakfast.”
Now it’s my turn to be amused. “You mean like chocolate covered strawberries.” I raise an eyebrow at her over my shoulder. “I remember those being your favorite and you put strawberries in your smoothies and chocolate is candy…”
“Point taken.” Still she shook her head. “But you can’t have the steamy sex like the books with doctors—”
“Oh please, they’re boinking each other in on-call rooms all the time,” I defend. She nods. Score another one for me.
“How could vamps be around blood?” She smirks at me, and I see something in her eyes, something very her and I know my best friend’s up to something besides poking holes in my theory but I don’t know what yet.
“Well, all of them couldn’t be. Only some, maybe just one, the main character. She’d be stronger than others. Really stubborn and determined. We know females like that.”
“Oh, it’s a she now?” She moves in front of me, waving me up and letting me know that I get can up because my lowlights need time to set.
I nod my head, following her out to the backyard to get some air because the smell of the crap burns my nose. “Yes. Someone stronger than the female leads we pick on. Let them call her a bitch. She’ll wear it with pride.”
“God knows you do,” she snorts. “Fine, so you have a badass, female vamp, who can handle blood like none other. Where?”
“What else?” I see her shoot me that sly look again but I ignore it, rambling for the next half hour about what the world would be like, how I would do it. When the timer goes off, we head back inside. “I’ve never seen you excited about something, Erin. Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to write?”
I winced as I took the chair, no way of escaping the conversation as I literally couldn’t leave without risking going bald. “It’s not practical. I have no training. I’m a horrible speller and I couldn’t even get into AP English. What would I know about being an author?” I didn’t even hear my own voice answering—but my parents. I’d wanted to be a writer since I knew that’s what it was called to make the books I loved to read as a child.
She moved in front of me and waved a comb in my face, probably knowing it wasn’t really me speaking. “Everyone listens to you at parties because you tell a great story. You come alive and people ask you to tell the same stories again and again because they’re fun. That’s what being a writer is. Knowing how to spell or being good at grammar is an editor. Tell your story. I would read it. Hell, I want to read it after you told me the idea. What’s the harm in writing it for you?”
“In my spare time maybe,” I sighed, giving a half shrug. Still she stared at me. “One day, okay? Maybe.”
She dropped it, but that day stuck with me. She was right about so many things. I never had been so excited about an idea or wanting to do something. It sounded so rebellious and I’d lived my whole life by expectations and I wasn’t happy.
But then the industry we were in fell apart and we lost our jobs. She landed on her feet just fine—I didn’t. I’d gone into that right out of college. I had nothing else on my resume. I took a few other jobs that either made me wonder why I’d bothered going to college or I hated with every fiber of my being, but those didn’t work out either.
And then someday came. After another company fell apart—one I was grateful it did—I didn’t even bother immediately putting my resume back together. I pulled out my laptop and for the next two weeks wrote the book. I wrote The Turning all 80k words of the first draft in less than two weeks. Even if nothing ever came of it, I did it, and no one could ever take that away from me. I did what I wanted above what I should do, what was probably smartest, or expected of me.
I don’t think I ever smiled so much in my life.
It didn’t get published no matter how many letters I sent out, I had no experience and nothing on my resume. So I went a different direction… But that was what made me become an author. Years later I did revisit it, finally looking at it with fresh eyes and glad I’d improved as much as I had as a writer. I tore it apart and put it back together and published myself, no longer wanting anyone else to touch my first baby, leaving it just the way I’d envisioned it.

So you never forget your first idea. Some I’ll never forget because they were so random, so crazy that it’s just not possible, but that first… Is something that stays with you for life.