I have been writing since I learnt to write. I remember being praised and having my compositions and poems featured on the wall gazette in second-third grade, and when I was about 13 I discovered at a general cleaning a notebook where I wrote a story in the first grade, about a witch who flew over a man and turned him into a rabbit. Two or three consistent paragraphs were a lot for a 7 years old…
I started writing longer stories since 12. My first one, 2 notebooks long, was a Western one… I still have one of the copybooks, having lost the other one. It makes me smile now, as there is no literary value in it, and sometimes things I wrote then have no logic. But I won’t throw it away.
Among the many stories I wrote in my teens, some don’t have much literary value. Or they could have some if reworked… but given the amount of work that might involve, I would rather transpose the idea in a different setting if I wanted to. With some, it worked though, and I transcribed them on the PC, reviewed and completed second edition . These are, in the order of length:
– “A travel through history‘” – 6,101 words (historical fiction/ young adult – somewhere in Peru, a student on a trip dreams of being a war slave in Cuzco in 1570, during the last Inca, Tupac Amaru)
– “The chess game” – 19,528 words (contemporary fiction/ young adult – the Iraq war of 1991, and how two young soldiers, a French one and an Iraqi one, save each other and befriend each other despite the laws of war).
– “The sea is calling us” – 41,289 words (historical fiction/ seafaring adventure – in 1790s, in the Ottoman Empire and in Africa. I.a, it draws on the fact that there might have been somebody else before Livingstone to have explored the Zambezi river, only that the discovery has not been recorded. ).
– “The crew” – 49,243 words (contemporary fiction/ young adult/ urban and seafaring adventure – a “crew” of young teens, some cousins, some friends, in a Danube harbour, with a passion for ships and with sailor family members, discover life, friendship, love, adventure, lies and the choice between honour and dishonour.)
– “The wanderers of the sea” – 69,119 words (historical fiction/ young adult / seafaring adventure – Viking Era. Two ships with Vikings banned from their country arrive to the Nahuatl Mexico after various adventures. Playing on the idea that Quetzalcoatl was Viking.)
– “Lives in turmoil” – 171,150 words (historical fiction/ young adult/ adventure – happening during Napoleonic Wars in Italy, then the characters emigrate to the US, witness the purchase of Louisiana and make a life for themselves around St. Louis).
– “Rightness’s friends” – 203,590 words (contemporary fiction/ young adult/ urban adventure – two or three gangs of teens, and their preoccupations. Troubles with parents and peers, tribulations of the first love, socially accepted or not, corresponded or not, learning about vocations, good and bad decisions in life, suicide and how the remaining ones have to deal with it…)
I would have liked to have published at least one… but it might happen some day.
However, since I discovered that RPGs do exist, ie one can write a story together with other people, and get it published on the internet for more people to read it and to discuss about it, I have no more interest in writing alone. (I might return to it some day, I don’t dismiss the possibility. But maybe something would change in order for me to return. Maybe at that moment I’d have around me a support group interested in reading and discussing characters, plots, motives, literary techniques).
I like more writing with others instead of writing alone, plotting with others instead of doing it alone, making come true both my stories and the others’, negotiating and finding a midway for aspects where the expectations are radically different, so that it keeps being fun and interesting for all of us, discussing what’s behind the story and the research process, gossiping and discarding several alternatives after choosing the one with the most ripples for the plot. Finding online likeminded friends of any ages, places, cultural, social and national background, interested in writing and reading, when there are none around me.
Of course, it doesn’t come without the frustration of flaky writing partners abandoning you mid-plot, vanishing without a word, not communicating…
One hears it so often from RPG partners – “If you don’t like it, go write a novel (or fanfiction) instead!” But is this really the solution, instead of talking with the writing partners and finding by negotiation and compromise a solution matching everyone’s writing needs, halfway?
…And, guess what: I don’t care anymore, at this moment,if I write alone or with a partner. Yes, I really prefer having writing partners.
But sometimes they aren’t available, or they have no ideas… and I wonder what is more pleasant, waiting for an answer which will come in a few weeks and might be asking for myself to lead the story and make all the efforts, or making the same efforts from the start and writing the thread alone, knowing that I can write when I have inspiration without waiting for anyone’s posts, and that if I focus on other, collective stories first, there is nobody to wait for my answer?
Writing a novel? Been there, done that (in my mother tongue) – several novel-length stories. And yes, I do finish what I start. But writing a novel is a lonely endeavour. Just me and the computer (or notebooks before) and the research sources. Then, it stays somewhere in a corner of the computer and this is it. If in the past some people were curious to read the manuscript, even when it was handwritten on paper because nobody had a PC (and the existing PCs were writing on colourful cards, not on paper at that time) now people don’t read as much in general, I have noticed this.
So yes, this is the answer why I wouldn’t write a novel alone anymore (for now), but one with others (a RPG, how writing with others is called) but still applying the rules of creative writing to this writing endeavour, planning included (just planning together, no more alone, and writing together, no more alone).
The story will always come first to me, and the characters are the most appropriate ones to make the story happen. I offer you the opportunity to join it and make your mark on it. If you don’t want to, the story will still go on… with your writing contribution, with another’s, or with mine only.