The Journey Into Nalia's World: My Guest Blog Post for http://www.nerdalien.com/
It was around late November, I was in my room staring at my computer as I usually do when I decided that I would write the story I was going to wait several years to write. It had only been a few months since I had moved back to Los Angeles after spending a year in London in grad school and a year in Turkey teaching English. Even though I was back in my home town, it felt strange.
When you move you have this notion that the place you call home will somehow stand still. That time will wait just for you. It won’t leave or abandon you the way you have done it. But as many people who move abroad and then return home discover everything feels different. Suddenly, you are in culture shock over a culture you once called your own.
The bad state of the economy, the desperation of failed job searches and the reality that I was different from everything around me quickly brought upon what I call the “dark days”. It would be the breeding ground for the world that I would create for Nalia. It is a place where you could be and do anything all with your imagination. The development of Nalia’s world was a chance to enter a place very far from the one that I was in. It was my escape. My faded light at the end of a very long tunnel.
It’s not like it was my first attempt at a novel or even a screenplay. As with most writers, I had my many failed attempts. Mostly because the stories I was writing weren’t really my own. They weren’t coming from a place that I was afraid to show anyone else. All my fears, desires and hopes I gave to Nalia. Although the first few chapters of the book are highly autobiographical (my father’s passing, my distant mother, my many hospital visits and the incessant bullying), Nalia is still her own person, and maybe a person that only those closest to me truly understand.
I needed to give her the footstool of my own experiences before I could let her grow into her own. Even so, I must admit that she as a character will not truly develop until the second book. Perhaps this is because the beginning was an exploration. A way for me to discover where I could take the story and what I was burring deep inside. Whatever it was, it was waiting, clawing, scratching, and fighting to get out.
There was a strange freedom once the book was done. It is something that I can’t quite describe and any words I give would all seem to do it no justice. I can say, for the first time in a while, the days aren’t so dark and the tunnels don’t seem so long.
There is something I like to do in my writing which I call my subtle hints and foreshadowing. There is a part in chapter 2 where it says“[Nalia] was going to have to stumble a bit in the dark to make it to the light...” There is a literal meaning to this as she was trying to get to the light switch in the back of a dark attic but it is also apropos to the journey that Nalia will take as she gets older.
In all this I have learned that writing requires all you have. If you hold back your readers will know. Putting yourself out there for the whole world to critique and judge is no easy task, but it must be what every aspiring great writer is willing to do. My motto for myself as the pesky nuisance of writer’s block attempts to slither in: the story is there, if you have the courage to write it.