By Debra Erfert
I’m new to the ANWA blog team, and in a way to introduce me, I thought I’d tell you how I began to write—where that first moment of inspiration came from. Quick, it’s not to late to turn on Live with Regis and
Kelly sans Regis. No? Still here?
It’s been 8 years since the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie finally was pulled from the theaters. I’d anticipated that film months before it arrived, loving every brief scene splashed across my television screen. When it finally showed, I dragged my husband—my sons—my friends—and, out of desperation, I went alone to watch when nobody else could stand seeing it again. And then the powers-at-be took my precious, precocious pirate away from me, and I was lost. I needed my Captain Jack fix, but what could I do? It would be months before the DVD appeared on the shelves at Wal-Mart. I’d surely die of withdrawals long before then. I could feel the stomach cramps start as I walked out of the theater on that last night. My mood fell into a darkened, despondent state.
Then this not-so crazy idea flittered into my brain. Why not write a sequel to the movie? Not only would I be plunged into the middle of Captain Jack’s life, I might even be able to sell the manuscript to Disney, or Jerry Bruckheimer! Oh, boy, I was really onto something. Okay, no, I’d never written anything more than comparative arguments in my college English classes, but, really, how different could writing a book be?
Stop rolling your eyes!
I’d just graduated from college with a degree in drafting, so I was thinking from the left side of my brain. My surveying class worked us up from basic math through trigonometry—totally a left-brain function, very organized. When working on blueprints you need to start from the very bottom of the building first—the foundation. This is what I did with building my pirate story. Of course then I had no idea of the basic, simplest things, like dialog punctuation for example. I never really paid attention to those things when I was just a reader. I doubt if anybody does—unless they’re an aspiring writer, then every little mistake sticks out like glowing green neon.
Oops, got off on a tangent.
Let me back up . . . the foundation of my pirate book—that’s right. I visualized the parts I wanted: the opening, the characters, the perils, the adventures, and the conclusion. I could “see” it all in my head. I just needed to get it down in my computer. I remember . . . it took three weeks, and the manuscript was a total of 109 pages long. It truly was my first novella. I felt like I could do anything—except sell something that was copywrited. What? Nooooooo! I spent all that time working on something that Disney couldn’t even legally read and neither could Bruckheimer? It would never be anything more than my own personal story when I needed a Sparrow fix. Ah, well!
Now what, I thought. Writing that short story was a total blast. Could I write a longer manuscript—one that was completely my own idea, with my own characters? “Yes—yes, I know I could!” I told me.
If you’re a writer and not just a lover of books, what inspired that first draft? Another book? Maybe a weird looking pirate in a silly movie? A story or character you couldn’t get out of your head while you lay in your bed at night when you were young? Did you make up stories for you children, or were you the storyteller when you were a child? There are thirteen other bloggers on this site, and more ANWA members who click over and read the posts. I want to know you better.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours?