July 17th, 2020
I remember the exact day. In fact, I remember the exact moment. I’d just had my third baby in less than 3.5 years, and this mama was tired. Tired in a way that isn’t like an I-just-stayed-up-all-night-and-now-I’m-exhausted tired. It was a weariness that seeps into one’s soul. That shoves you down as it reminds you that you haven’t slept in years. That you probably won’t sleep again for the rest of your life.
But the one respite I clung desperately to was my quiet time. Quiet time is revered in our house. Even though all my babies have grown out of naps, I still require one hour of “peace” in the middle of each day.
When my firstborn was a baby and I only had him, I had three blessed hours to call my own each day. What I did with those quiet, unadulterated hours, I can’t fully remember, but I do know I cleaned, did projects around the house, and sometimes read or did a puzzle. After my second son, I cleaned and read. After the third, I did nothing but read. I realized that I needed the dwindling time (sometimes only fifteen to twenty minutes) to fill me up.
I found that to escape the chaos of having three babies, I needed to immerse myself in a different world, even if just for a few minutes. It was a coping mechanism, and it worked.
After reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, I remember mulling over these incredible ideas that authors had. Where did they get them? I could never be that creative or imaginative. I mulled over this concept for a couple weeks.
If anyone ever asks me where I got my ideas for the Chronicles of Caelestis series, I’m going to joke and tell them they all came from my bathroom. But in truth, most of them did.
I was taking a shower, and when I was finished, I stepped out, grabbed my towel, was busy toweling off my legs when POW! The idea hit me like an explosion- a person who can travel to another world in their dreams. “That’s a new idea,” I thought to myself. “I’ve never read any book like that.”
I went downstairs. I Googled it. “Huh. That’s funny. I see one book in all the world written about this idea.” And the book I saw was obsolete. I couldn’t even see how one could get their hands on the self-published book. (I later found out that the Time Traveler’s Wife uses this idea (I think it’s that book), but I’ve never read it.)
I lay in bed that night. Suddenly scenes were bursting like fireworks in my head. Explicit scenes that I was watching play out like a movie in my mind. I could hardly sleep for watching this incredible scene (the first chapter of my book) play out.
I tried to shrug it off as silly. The only writing I’d done is volume upon volume of personal journaling. But the idea was so firmly attached to my brain, it felt like I had an alien like the one in The Host wrapped around it.
On February 4th, 2018, I wrote the first scene.
It was fun.
At quiet time, I wrote more. I didn’t tell my husband. He’d think I was crazy.
Throughout the day as I took care of my kids, I could see more of the book. Ideas were flying into my head so fast that I barely had time to scratch out notes in my phone or on loose pieces of paper around the house. After one week of non-stop writing, my husband finally asked what I was hiding. I blushed. “I guess I’m writing a book? I dunno. Just something fun to do.”
After two weeks, the skeleton of a trilogy formed in my head. I had all the major bones I needed, but the next months wove in the muscle. I wrote the first book in three months. It showed me I’d have four books. I debated whether to stop and try to publish it right then, or to go on and see exactly how this would play out.
I’m a perfectionist. The perfectionist in me feared that if I tried to publish it now, I would miss out on all the little clues that would be needed in the remaining books. If I rushed it and wasn’t positively sure what the details would be in the remaining books, I might make an irrevocable mistake. It took me three to four months to write the second rough draft. Then three to four more months to write the third book. At the end of the third book, I was shocked to find my fingers typing out a plot twist that not even I had anticipated. I was exciting my own self.
And it was going to make the fourth book into a 1,000 page tome. Looks like we’d have five books. Five books to represent the recurring theme of “five” in my novels. It was beyond perfect.
After every rough draft was finished, I’d wrestle with the idea of going back to polish that first one to try to publish it. But every time, I told myself that creative juices were flowing now. This time at home with my kids was precious. Now was the time to lay the foundation.
I’m so glad I did. My vision and goals changed throughout the writing process, but the story stayed the same. I’m excited for this book. I want it to be something that inspires young people to persevere through hard times and to detect their own flaws and use their own determination to fix them. Magic and fantasy are awesome, but at the end of the day, it’s by one’s own grit (and the grace and strength of God) that we overcome hardship.