by Alysha Blaze
As the holidays draw near, people tend to reflect on previous holidays. For myself, this story comes to mind. So, as you all know if you have read my previous blogs that I have a background in fan fiction. It kick-started my writing career and allowed me to receive feedback from my readers so I could build on my skills very early. So one December, a post shows up on my Tumblr account back when I was more active on that website. The post advertises an Attack On Titan (or Shingeki No Kyojin) fan fiction Secret Santa sign up. Naturally, as someone with a semi-successful fan fiction blog and a very strong interest in this anime/manga at the time, I was intrigued.
I had not heard of this sign-up but apparently it had made its rounds around the website as there were more than a hundred users who had interacted with the post and joined this project. Essentially, to sign up you would submit your blog with a couple prompts of some themes for the story you would like written for yourself and anything that you were opposed to (no tragedy, or not too goopy for example) and a little about your writing style and strengths so the admins could match you with a prompt best suited to your skills. I decided to sign up as I didn't have any major projects interfering at the time so I would be able to get it done in time for Christmas. I also signed up to be a "pinch hitter," meaning that if someone bailed at the last second I would take on an extra story. I was worried about getting too much at once to do but knew I'd be fine if I just had one or two stories.
After I signed up, a few weeks later once submissions were closed I was given a prompt that was very sweetly written. Clearly on the "nice" list, the user politely asked for something with horseback riding or a competition between the two characters. But she said if that was a problem for inspiration she would be grateful to have any kind of story written for her. Awe. I liked her already. I had figured I would receive a holiday-themed story suggestion such as Christmas shopping together, a party, etc, but this was actually much more specific and creative. Immediately ideas were popping into my head and I knew that I could actually combine her first suggestion and her back up as well into one story as one character was highly competitive, while also looking to impress the other in the original anime. It felt almost too easy.
I've been given many suggestions for stories, but none inspired me as much as this one did. I got right to work and spent an evening in front of my computer typing out the story I was seeing in my head into the keyboard. I got such a vivid picture in my mind, and as I wrote out one scene the next just seemed to play out like a movie. Once I finished, my jaw dropped at what I had managed to create. I edited it but decided to get feedback on it first before I sent it to the admins to be posted for Christmas as this was a gift, and I wanted someone else's opinion on it before I sent it. I had an artsy friend who would be coming by for an evening so I held off until I got her thoughts on it as I knew if it sucked, she would tell me. Everybody needs a blunt friend who will tell you when your work is crap if you ask for their opinion (and only if you ask!) as long as they can pinpoint what exactly is crappy.
When my friend sat at my desk and began reading, I had to leave the room. I was so proud of my new baby creation I couldn't bear watching her reactions to it. Plus, it would take away from being immersed in the story if I had been just staring her down the whole time like a creep. So I went and fixed us drinks, arranged some snacks, and put things away all while sneaking glances with bated breath. When I heard her laugh from another room at a part I had hoped would be funny, I breathed a sigh of relief. But then came the questions. "What scene was funny?" "Which part?" I remembered while writing a few things popped into my head like a gopher that had made me laugh, so I found a way to add them in. I took a look and saw her smile that signature "aaaaw" way people do when something sweet happens and knew my work was not a failure. But I still awaited any criticism just in case.
When my bud finished the story, she told me it was one of my best works. No criticism at all! I had also gone over the story with a fine-tooth comb editing it, even reading it aloud as I find that helps point out spelling mistakes, so I should have had more faith. I couldn't help but be nervous I was missing something since I was just too dang happy with the turnout. This is one of the best feelings of an author. But better was the reaction I got later.
I submitted the story and received a note from the person who gave me the wonderfully inspiring prompts. The authors were revealed after the stories submitted so she had easy access to find me. She was positively elated I had not only used her prompt but used BOTH of them and seemed to love my work as much as I did. It got a lot of likes and was shared around, so I was very proud of this work.
I wanted to share this story today because I am guilty of reflection at this time of year just like all you humans, and I want all authors both seasoned and new to know that not all of their work will end of balled up and tossed. You have the potential to have this incredibly motivating experience because someday, you're gonna get inspired and create something that four years later you still reflect on and pump your fist in a proud momma moment. One of the perks of writing is pride in your completed work. So forget modesty and show it off, brag a little. You didn't get writer's cramp for nothing!
Alysha Blaze is a masked vigilante who spends her nights defending her city of Winnipeg, Manitoba from the evil villains Captain Misspell and Mr. Incorrect Grammar. With her side-kick Spell Check at her side, no misuse of words will escape justice. She spends her down time writing short stories and poetry. Some of this might not be true.