I’ve always dreamed and always had an imagination. So why did I wait to write an actual story until high school? Short answer: no clue. Long answer: because I have a remarkable skill to shoot myself in the foot in order to prevent myself from running. Some call it fear of failure; others, fear of success. With my luck, it’s probably both. Ultimately, I have my best friend to thank. For now, we shall keep her anonymous (but don’t be surprised if you come back later and there’s an actual name here).
She was the one with a dream. And I don’t mean the “When I grow up I want to be veterinarian” dream, but a real honest-to-goodness dream. She told me about it one morning. I forget where we were. We could have been in my car, drinking coffee, waiting for the bell or it could have been on the random couch in the school library. Either way, I heard it and knew she had something. We already talked crazy stories–“what ifs” if you’re following–so latching onto this wasn’t much of a stretch.
Except, unlike most of our tall tales, it didn’t peter out; it grew. We talked about it almost constantly, that is, when we weren’t obsessing about boys or imagined slights or the latest disaster our siblings had put us through. And with the talking, came an idea. What if we turned it into a book? What if it was more than one? The possibilities were limitless. And since we hadn’t been completely disenfranchised yet, we dared to dream.
We promptly discovered that writing was hard, like really hard. Needless to say, the first draft was almost completely torched. That may have been the most painful eight chapters of my life. Though it is a toss up what was more painful: the actual writing or intentionally tossing months of agonizing work down the drain. Occasionally, I will run across some of the original drafts (yes, there was more than one) and I still couldn’t tell you which it is. Still, we persevered. Life, of course, had other plans. High school ended, the Recession hit, and all of our hopes and dreams got thrown back in our face. Turns out, life was harder than we had been led to believe.
College brought its expected trials and tribulations. The Freshman fifteen, finishing essays at four in the morning, bombing your Spanish test. The worst of which was what everyone but us had seen as inevitable. They tell you never room with your best friend, there may be some wisdom in that. The fall out was epic and it seemed that no amount of trying, pretending, or shouting was going to fix it. So we stopped talking. She moved to another city and I moved to another state. Our dream all but forgotten.
Pages of a neglected manuscript gathered dust right next to our copyright. As I stared at it over six hundred miles away from my spirit sister, I wondered again what had happened. Now I was in a new place with no friends, no plan, and no heading. I was desperate for something familiar. So I picked up the book. Getting started was awkward as I fumbled to find the rhythm that had once been so natural. Could I write this without her? Was it even possible to retain her voice? I had to try; this was all I had.
Eventually the words did come more fluidly. Much like riding a bike, I scraped the shit out of my ankles before I remembered how to pedal or in this case, finish a sentence. Still I wrote. Painful paragraphs became semi-coherent chapters, until at last I could see the finish line. It wasn’t perfect, but I had done it. Then the universe finally took pity on my strangled efforts and my co-author called. When I saw the name, I could scarcely believe it. As we talked, it was like no time had passed at all. The conversation was as easy as it always been.
Now came the hard part. I had to admit what I had been up to. Would she feel betrayed? Pleased? Left out? There was only one way to know. To my infinite surprise, she ended up endorsing the efforts. Sure there is a bit more to it than that, but I figure the short version is best for now. So after six years, countless false starts, and twenty chapters, we finally had a completed manuscript. It had a beginning, middle, and end and everything. That may not seem like much to some, but it was ours. And it was her dream that inspired me to finally put my other fantastical ideas to paper. I personally still think it needs her touch, but that’s something for later.